We are a distracted bunch. We need to be continually drawn back or our minds wander. We need to be entertained and “spoon fed life” like infants even though we should be mature. We want the Cliff Notes version of not only books but everything. We want it all to come quickly and with minimal engagement on our part, so we can do the other stuff we want to do. We also tend to not commit in case something better comes along.
When I was in my first college finance class I learned about ROI, Return On Investment. In a nutshell, it was a fancy way of saying – is it worth it? Are there things in our lives that we should stick with no matter what? What will always give you what you need in the end? What is worth the focus or the time or the energy?
As you would probably expect from me, I would say all the previous words and questions lead us to what God alone can provide. I’m talking about the deep things in life we need like peace and joy that can transcend our circumstances. I believe this to be true, but this week I have also seen once again that I often struggle with this single-mindedness that God wants me to live my days possessing. When I take my mind off my Savior and God’s way, I end up with stress and anxiety. I need to face the hard truth that at times I choose not to believe God is enough. OUCH!
In any given week my soul can be in turmoil the same way Peter’s was when he took his eyes off Jesus while walking on the water during a storm recorded in Matthew 14.
28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
It is very easy for me to see the “storm and wind” of finances, relationships and so many other things that draw my attention away from Jesus. The anxiety and stress mount and I find myself sinking. Joy and peace are lost as the waves threaten to take me under. I need to see Jesus like Peter did. I reach out and there He is – always has been – to take my hand and deal with the storms in my life. He comes to me in His power, His truth and His overwhelming grace. Jesus speaks to me, “Nick, don’t doubt and don’t look elsewhere for what I alone can give you!”
Jesus and all that comes with Him is what gives everything its proper value. The Good News of the Advent season is that Jesus has come as the Savior and the Light of the World. He brings the joy and peace that conquers all! Look to Him and you will truly see the rest of the world rightly as well.
In Christ Alone,
When I was a little boy I had a hunger for books. I especially liked books that had really cool covers like the Hardy Boys series. If you have seen them, the cover typically depicted the two brothers in the midst of their most recent adventure that would be laid out in the upcoming pages of the book. On occasion at garage sales I was able to buy a few so by the time I was a teenager I possessed quite a collection of the mystery books. I loved to display them on a shelf in my room. They really looked cool and more than a couple of people commented on them. I even loaned them out from time to time.
The problem is that to this day I have never read a Hardy Boys’ book. It isn’t really so much a problem as it is simply a confession that also applies to my interaction with Bibles at various times in my life. I remember feeling a certain sense of “look what I’ve got” with my new Bibles that I would carry proudly into church or page through to feel connected. I wonder if any of you have similar childhood memories. It wasn’t all bad since my sense of pride regarding the Bibles was that I believed it was an important book to have and it connected me to the rest of this group that thought highly of the Bible. I was one of them!
Now it is one thing to go through life without ever truly learning of the Hardy Boys’ investigative gifts. It is quite another thing to go through life and choose not to read and engage with your Creator’s letter that He wrote for you. The Bible is not a magical book that magically protects me because I have one sitting on my coffee table. But the Bible is a book like none other because God wrote it and His Spirit takes the words in its pages to feed me with grace, forgiveness and peace.
This week’s theme for Sunday is “Bible Study”. We do this because we get to and because we need it. It is a gift to us so that we can know our God and His ways. The Bible starts with “In the beginning God…”, moves into creation, then walks through the history of humanity and God’s intervention. By reading and contemplating the Bible we grow in our understanding of God, ourselves and how to live our lives as Children of God. God’s Word is intended to serve us as our source for life and guide for living the life God prepares for us. It is filled with light, truth and hope.
This week’s invitation for you to study the Bible is not meant to be a guilt trip or give you one more thing on your to do list. It is an opportunity to gain God’s perspective on what your life is made up of and how you will process all that comes your way. In its pages you will see how deeply you are loved by God and how He wants you to love others. Try reading it if you haven’t yet and expect it to have something to say that will matter in your life today.
God declares the power of His Word in our lives in Isaiah 55.11
Living in the Word,
Pastor Nick Mundis