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Groundhog Day is Biblical

EcclesiastesWhat do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises… All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again… What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:3-5,7,9 (NIV)

You think it’s Groundhog Day? Then let me tell you, it’s been Groundhog Day since 900 BC.

Our lives felt pretty stable until a tiny virus disrupted the world. It toppled our carefully constructed lives and skewed every detail.

We feel helpless and vulnerable. We’re not in control like we thought. It was an illusion. People are dying. Many are without work. The world is a dangerous and unpredictable place we can’t control.

Tim Mackie of the Bible Project writes:

While this stripping away of control is a painful experience, according to the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, it’s one of the best worst things that can happen to us. One of the first steps toward biblical wisdom is a posture of total surrender before God. And nothing helps us get there quicker than losing control of our lives.

When we feel in control of life and things are running smoothly, we don’t think we need God. We forget where we came from, who gave us these good gifts and to whom we belong.

Have we forgotten who gave us all that we have?
Do we think our lives are a result of our own efforts?
Did we need to be shaken from out well-balanced lives?
Are we now in a better position to accept God’s instructions and receive wisdom?

Ecclesiastes advises us to accept our small place in God’s grand scheme. Enjoy the present, the gifts of delicious food, nature’s beauty, and close friends. Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. It’s always Groundhog Day.

I’ve also written about how Life is Fragile and how We Need God, even when we don’t realize it.

#SeedsofScripture #Covid19 #safeathome #nothingnewunderthesun #Godisincontrol #ecclesiastes #groundhogday

The Golden Rule for Reopening after COVID-19

Golden Rule of LoveThe Golden Rule: Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.
Matt 7:12 (NLT)

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, we were “all in this together”, sacrificing personal freedoms and conveniences in order to curb the spread of COVID-19. We understood the need to deny ourselves for the sake of others. We were beautifully selfless.

Together we denied ourselves, took up our crosses, and practiced self-giving love (Mark 8:34).

Our tentative steps forward are less united. Some of us remain fearful and feel safer at home, perhaps because we are, or are living with, someone at risk. Some are comfortable moving toward ‘normal’, confident in masks and social distancing. Others resist any restriction. Opinions differ. Comfort levels differ.

Love means respecting and even honoring our differences.

Let us make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification Paul instructs the Romans, abstain from a behavior if it will offend the person you’re with (Romans 14:19). In other words, honor the other person even if you disagree, even if you know better. For the Romans it meant not eating meat. In our present situation it means wear a mask when it makes the person you’re with more comfortable. Guard their safety. Honor their wishes even if you disagree.

The Golden Rule asks us to step into another’s shoes and exhibit the kind of love we’d want to receive. God’s guidance for reopening after COVID is clearly rooted in love.

Bear with one another… and above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Colossians 3:13-14 (NRSV)

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
John 13:35 (NRSV)

Are you curious about why Christians claim that self-denial is the way to true life? Read about Losing One Life to Gain a Better One or Giving Control to Jesus.

#SeedsofScripture #Covid19 #knowusbyourlove #safeathome #GoldenRule #allinthistogether #dountoothers

Have We Learned to Obey During Covid-19?

Obey Covid-19 rulesBut anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.
Matthew 7:26 (NLT)

My glasses fog with every breath. I rush to hold the mask to my face when the elastic pops off my ear so as not to offend. It’s a nuisance.

It’s a nuisance, but masks protect everyone. We shelter at home. We work at home. No church. No school. No gym. No Starbucks. We bundle errands together and leave the house only when necessary. It’s restricting but we comply.

We miss friends and hugs and end-of-year celebrations and restaurants. But we’ve learned to obey. Obedience isn’t a popular word. None of us likes to be told what to do, but this pandemic has taught us to accept authority and obey. The rules are inconvenient, but we know they’re in our best interest.

God’s rules are in our best interest too. They’re instructions for becoming fully human, enduring trials, experiencing joy, and living in community. Jesus says we’re foolish if we know His commands yet don’t obey and He asks us to express our love for Him through obedience. But He lets us to choose.

If you love me, obey my commandments.
John 14:15 (NLT)

Could we transfer the obedience we’ve learned from the pandemic into obedience to God? Will we accept His authority and see that His intentions are good? Jesus wants us to obey willingly. Love can’t be coerced or forced. He doesn’t want begrudging or guilty obedience.

How will you answer?

  • Do you believe God is good and wants the best for us?
  • Have you studied Jesus’ teachings?
  • Which of His commands do you obey?
  • Why do you disobey others?
  • Will you willingly express your love for Jesus by obeying?

There is much to explore with regard to obedience, like whether the Bible is true, how God rewards a man who recognizes his disobedience, and that God knows we can’t obey without His help.

#SeedsofScripture #Covid19 #obedience #safeathome #Godisgood #obeyGod

Are You Feeling Stuck Inside?

stuck at homeOn that very day Noah and his sons, …together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark …Then the Lord shut him in. For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth.
Genesis 7:13,16-17 (NIV)

You’ve heard the flood story. It rained for 40 days and nights while Noah, his family and lots of animals are stuck (I mean safe) on the ark. The Arky, Arky song tells the story. Go ahead, listen. It’ll bring a smile.

Perhaps you’re feeling like Noah after being stuck inside your home for 40 days. Noah had no idea what was ahead. God gave Noah a vague promise: “I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark.” (Gen 6:18)

In other words, God said “Trust me.”

We know how the story ends: Noah leaves the ark, plants a productive vineyard, and repopulates the world. But Noah couldn’t see the future beyond his curved wooden walls. When will this rain stop? How long until the water recedes? What will the world be like? Amid the uncertainty, the family quarrels, and the animal chaos, Noah could only rely on God’s promise.

Can you relate? We’re in the same boat facing an uncertain end to COVID-19 and an undefined world.

The good news is that Noah disembarks, albeit after a long process. Unfortunately, the rain was only the beginning. The ark remained afloat for 150 days before landing on a mountain (Gen 8:3-4). About 3 months later Noah saw the mountain tops and opened the ark’s window (8:6). Just smell that fresh air!

Hopeful, Noah tested the waters with a raven, then a dove – two failed attempts. Can you feel his disappointment when the exhausted dove returned? How much longer? How many tests? Do you feel like Noah when state officials prolong stay-at-home orders and cancel school for the year?

A week later, Noah’s dove discovered an olive leaf (8:11). Imagine the relief and hope! The end is in sight! Yet another, more hopeful, week and Noah’s dove didn’t return. It’s over!

In all, Noah was safe inside the ark for a year and his first action was to build an altar and praise God (8:20).

We don’t know how long we’ll stay safely inside our homes.
We do know it will end.
What will you do first?

Noah has been a frequent topic on Seeds of Scripture. Click these links to know how to have Faith like Noah or about the flood’s grim reality that God drowned people.

#SeedsofScripture #Covid19 #praiseGod #thistooshallpass #Noahsark #safeathome

Can Good Come from Isolation?

conformed to JesusAnd we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.
Romans 8:28-29 (NLT)

Can God bring good from this pandemic?

This sounds insensitive with so many experiencing fear, grief, anxiety, financial distress, loneliness, depression, and even divisiveness.

How can God cause everything to work together for good?

Some already appreciate less rushing around and increased family time, more cooking, and less pollution. We also have new appreciation for health care workers, grocery staff, and teachers.

The Israelites of the Bible saw a trial like our pandemic as a lesson from God. They looked inward and at community behavior often recognizing how far they had drifted away from God. Their suffering presented an opportunity for them to re-prioritize, re-center, and return to God.

We often read today’s verse by itself, without reading the one that follows. But the next verse reveals the good that God will bring about.

For God knew His people in advance, and He chose them to become like His Son.
Romans 8:28-29 (NLT)

If we’ll take time for reflection individually and as a community, God will bring good from this pandemic. He will shape us to be more Christ-like. Let’s ask:

  • When can we find quiet time to pray and seek God’s guidance? (Mark 1:35)
  • Which of our priorities conflict with God’s values? (John 8:28-29)
  • When can we set aside our own desire for someone else’s benefit? (Mark 14:36)
  • How will we use our resources to advance God’s kingdom? (Luke 8:2-3)
  • Who are the vulnerable and marginalized God calls us to protect and care for? (Luke 14:12-14)
  • How can we lift someone else up rather than advance ourselves? (Mark 9:35)

How will we emerge from COVID-19 more like Jesus?

You might enjoy reading about why I feel privileged to serve Jesus.

#SeedsofScripture #COVID19 #lovelikeJesus #transformedbygrace #christlikeliving

Why We Worship While Some Still Doubt?

worship with doubtThen the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
Matthew 28:16-17 (NIV)

They all worship; but some still doubt.

This is one of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances, but not the first. Think about it. These eleven of Jesus’ travel companions have already experienced the risen Christ at least once.

They all worship; but some still doubt.

Thomas is the famous doubter who insists on seeing the resurrected Jesus before believing. Evidently Thomas is not the only doubter. Even after eating with Jesus, seeing His wounds, and hearing Him explain the Old Testament scriptures, some still doubt.

This doubt tries to make sense of it all; but they worship.

Jesus certainly knows their doubts but doesn’t rebuke them as He has in the past. They have gone to the mountain as He told them and they worship in spite of their doubts. Their faith is certain enough to obey and worship while trying to make sense of it.

We can worship Jesus and doubt at the same time. (click to tweet)

We’re in good company when we don’t have it all figured out. Jesus knows our faith will grow as we follow, worship, and build a relationship with Him. Like the man whose son Jesus healed, we say “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24)

The rest of the story might surprise you. Jesus commissions this uncertain crew with taking His message to the world:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them… and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Mt 28:19-20)

We, too, are charged with teaching the world about Jesus in spite of lingering questions. The Holy Spirit empowers us, leads us, and gives us the words to speak. Perhaps, seeing the Spirit in action will be how God overcomes our unbelief.

What are your lingering questions about Jesus?
Where will you turn for answers?

Want to dig deeper? Explore these related topics by clicking the colored text:
What we are supposed to teach as we make disciples?  and
The risen Jesus asks Peter to shepherd believers  

#SeedsofScripture #makedisciples #greatcommission #doubtingfaith #faithquestions

Holy Week – God is Faithful, No Matter What

Holy Week God is FaithfulWe’re stepping away from Jesus’ teachings today to look at an Old Testament tradition for ‘signing’ a contract with His people that seems very strange to us. First, it shows that God is willing to die in order to rescue us from slavery and bring us home. Second, it shows how the entire Bible fits together into one story – God’s love story for His people. Enjoy this video message.

God’s Promise to Keep His Covenant

#SeedsofScripture #HolyWeek #HolyWeek2020 #cross #COVID19

Holy Week – Jesus Commends a Generous Hero

Holy Week Jesus WidowToday’s Holy Week story comes from Mark and Luke. In this video message I share how two of Jesus’ lessons connect to reveal an ironic twist in the familiar tale of the widow’s mite. She is a generous hero for more than one reason.

A Generous Hero

Please share with a friend who might like to learn about Jesus’ last lessons before the cross.

How are we blessing others with our God-given blessings?

#SeedsofScripture #HolyWeek #HolyWeek2020 #cross #COVID19

 

Holy Week – Jesus Avoids the Trap

holy week jesus teachesI hope you had a wonderful Palm Sunday worshiping online. What a time this is! I have another teaching from Jesus that Matthew, Mark, and John all record. Join me in this video message.

Who do you worship?

Please share with a friend who might enjoy Holy Week reflections.

What does worship look like outside the church walls?

#SeedsofScripture #cross #HolyWeek #COVID19 #HolyWeek2020

Two Stops on the Way to Jerusalem

Holy WeekJesus is on His way to Jerusalem knowing He will accomplish His mission by dying. What are His crucial final actions and teachings?

I’m creating videos this Holy Week because we’re in isolation. In this 6 minute message we learn about two stops Jesus made – one for personal reasons and one as part of His mission. Join me, will you?

Holy Week – Last Stops before Jerusalem

#SeedsofScripture #HolyWeek #COVID19

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Each post is a brief scriptural thought that will grow as you let it take root in your thoughts.  If you have time, dig into one area of interest and plant a whole garden.
Each post is a brief scriptural thought that will grow as you let it take root in your thoughts. If you have time, dig into one area of interest and plant a whole garden.

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