Wednesday, October 26, 2016

October 23, 2016 - A Work in Progress

I am a work in progress, there are things about me that I know must change. Rather than bore you with my list of things, I will simply summarize them by saying they are probably very much like yours. Life can be a messy process but the good news is that we have directions on how to change it!

As people I have known pass on, I look at their life and how I remember them. Gaylard Hadley has given me an example of how to live a life of service. His life was a work in progress too, until this past week when he finally finished his works here on Earth. The memory most of us share of Gaylard is the same, he was willing to try and tackle any service project, community need, or most other worthy task that he was presented with. And even if you weren't blessed to know Gaylard most of us can recall someone like him who has been a part if our life.

We have been given examples to live by.

The bible tells many stories, of many people, but in almost all of the stories the people had issues that they needed to work through. This is a quote from pastor Rick Warren, "You are a work in progress. Your spiritual transformation in developing the character of Jesus will take the rest of your life, and even then it won't be completed here on Earth. It will only be finished when you get to heaven or when Jesus returns." 

Paul says in Ephesians 4:13, "This will continue until we all come into such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ."

And from 1 John 3:2, "He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is."

We have been given scripture to live by.

"Opportunity knocks" is a familiar slogan to us all. This is something we often hear but never really listen to. Opportunity comes in all shapes and sizes, it comes in forms and people that we may not expect. God provides us with opportunities to change our life and also help change the lives of others. We all need to become better at realizing our opportunities. These may come in the forms of prayer, friendship, compassion, service, or more extreme examples like evangelism...but they are there!

We have been given opportunity to live by.

My desk at school often looks like a total mess, but I know where things are. I am confident some of you can relate to that? Many of the things are notes I have written to myself to remember a meeting or to add or change a grade, or to complete some other task on my list. I always seem to have more and more to do, a definite work in progress! God keeps giving us hints of our need for progressing too. They may come in the form of trials, blessings, scripture or some other form but they help remind us that He is there with is in our walk.

We have reminders to live by.

These are but a few things that lead us in our lifetime task of changing into what God wants us to be. Things that make us all a work in progress! As we each walk our walk we find it may involve one step forward and two steps back. But, it is important to move forward at whatever speed we walk because our plan of change takes an entire lifetime. God has given us one more thing to live by, and it is the reminder through the elements at His table of the sacrifices made for us that allow us to finish our spiritual improvement plan. Let us remember these sacrifices as we share communion.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

August 28, 2016 - Perfection (Again!)

Perfection is something we all strive for at some point in life, we want to be the perfect  son or daughter, the perfect parent, to play something perfectly. It is human nature to want to be the best at something. 

The summer olympics just ended, and it was filled with many joys and sorrows. Two people I know personally had a good chance to participate in the games so I had more than a normal amount of interest in watching them. A former student of mine was one of the fastest 50 meter freestyle swimmers in the world and a former dance mate of my children was trying to make the U.S. gymnastics team.

To reach the level of competition needed to win a place on the olympic team requires a near-perfect, if not perfect performance. Both came up just short, they weren't good enough even though they were among the best in the world. Perfection is difficult!

I began to think about the average person and our average desires to seek perfection. In which areas of life have I sought to be perfect? 
Have I ever reached perfection?
Is even my faith perfect?

In my youth I was a pitcher in baseball. I always longed to throw that "perfect game" but the best I ever did was to just come close. I just read about a pitcher who came within one out of a no-hitter and lost it. So close, but yet so far away.Again, perfection is difficult!

Before I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior I had the misconception to believe that I must walk the perfect path to be good enough. That, "to be saved" I must already be worthy. Fortunately for me, God opened my eyes. I had been hstriving for perfection when imperfection was the reason Christ died for me and for you. Through Christ, we become perfect and able to enter God's kingdom because our imperfections are washed clean.

God teaches us through life and scripture to seek perfection, but accept His help in reaching it. Kind of like my own situation where I failed to understand the second part of His directive. I thought that I, alone, must reach a perfect state.

In The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, "You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48. 
And as Paul says to the Phillipians, in Phillipians 3:12 "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own."

We should always remember that we live in God's plan, not ours. 
That our sins and shortcomings are things he has already known about us. 
That our failure to live up to the laws of Moses, though we freely choose to sin like all mankind, are a part of His plan.
And that He has provided a path to perfection that we merely need to accept.

Perfection IS difficult...if we try to reach it alone!

The elements of the table are our reminders that Jesus is our guide to perfection and that, with His body and washed in His blood, we are perfect in the eyes of God. On the night that He was betrayed, Jesus took the loaf and gave thanks for it. Then He broke it, saying "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.