Living Hope

Our Victory

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

“‘O death, where is your victory?

    O death, where is your sting?”

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

He came down from heaven to win the war for us.

Jesus Christ, born of Mary, the incarnate Son of the Heavenly Father, took the field for us and defeated the enemies of God and His people. He did it willingly so we could be brought back into the family of God. And when our enemies thought they defeated Him when they killed Him on the Roman cross, Jesus walks from three days later from the tomb.

The empty tomb symbolizes the great victory Jesus won for us.

Death no longer has control over us. Jesus victoriously walked free since death’s grip was overcome when He rose from the dead.

The victory over death is our victory, imparted to us because our Lord wants us to be with Him forever. He did it all on our behalf so we can stand as victors over death, sin, and Satan and gain eternity with our God. Jesus won the war for us.

It is a great feeling to know that our God has done this all for us and has given us the fruits of His victory. Though we may feel like we don’t deserve it, He gave it to us any way because our God loves us.

As we go through this time of immeasurable struggles with the coronavirus and see so many people lose their lives, we know that our redeemer lives and that all of God’s people will stand with Him for eternity. Though we cry today, our tears are wiped away by our Savior who redeemed us from eternal death.


Our Best

As we see throughout the Bible, God’s people fail Him nearly every time. The people written about in Holy Scripture are not the greatest, most righteous people ever born. They are weak and sinful, not unlike all of us. But the stories found in God’s Word show us one important fact: It is God who wipes away our failures and makes us new in the regenerating waters of Baptism, the sacrifice of His Son at the cross, and our individual strengthening by the Holy Spirit.

Daily, God takes what is broken and makes it new. 

Evidence from Bible shows us this time and time again. Humanity was created in God’s image, but created lesser than the angels. As such, we’re not as strong physiologically and are prone to doing things that God doesn’t want us to do. However, God works His power through His Son and Spirit to make us new every day.

Refining and strengthening us through His love and grace everyday, we, God’s creation are built up to give to God and others one thing:

Our best.

He wants us to be our best in this life to love Him and others before anything. He wants us to walk faithfully on HIs path to show what it means to be a child of God. Jesus is asked about our lives and what God wants from us. His answer is simple:

(Jesus said) “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 

(Mark 12:30-31)

God’s great directive for us is to strive to be our best – to Him and to others. He doesn’t want half-hearted worship or loving people only when it suits us.

He wants our best always.

Though being our best is not easy. Sin destroys our drive to be our best. We’re not as faithful to God as He wants and never loving enough to those around us.

As a church, I believe we need to begin to study and reflect upon working towards being our best to God and to others. Our daily mission is to be better today than we were yesterday, showing God and others our loving commitment of our discipleship in Jesus.

To be better, this commitment of ours needs to be towards formulating a more passionate prayer life, living a more expressive life of love towards the entirety of the world, including ourselves, and living the joyful hope we have in Jesus. And when we do those things, we do it all to the glory of God.

Isn’t that what Pauls tells the Corinthians? “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

God wants us to be our best.

We, the church, need to rebuild our discipleship lives around giving and being our best. 

Living Hope Prayer

My Prayer Life Isn’t Great

I have to make an admission – my prayer life isn’t very vibrant.

This is terrible since I’m a pastor. You’d think of all the people on the planet, the last person to complain about their prayer life would be a clergyman.

Yet, my prayer life isn’t great.

I don’t pray enough. And when I pray, I feel as though I’m rushing through the petitions so I could get onto doing something else.

I’ve thought about setting aside time on my schedule to pray, kind of like saying, “Between 8 and 9 AM, all I’m going to do is meditate and pray.”

It sounds good, but it ain’t happening. Life gets hectic very fast.

But the hectic life is my fault. I don’t organize my time well enough. Honestly, I’ve never been great at organization when it comes to merging my personal and professional lives. I compartmentalize too much, setting up group times for stuff needing to get done so my personal life doesn’t crash around me and stuff that the pastor needs to get done.

And even with compartmentalizing, setting up “Prayer Time” never happens.

I think I need to pray for my prayer life.

This weekend in church, we’re praying for:

  • An end to senseless violence as another horrific shooting happened this week at a bar in California. Truthfully, I’m getting tired of adding these petitions in our weekend prayers every time when a crazy person shoots up a public gathering. The sadness of these events rips at our souls.
  • Sunday is Veteran’s Day and we’re going to remember the Veterans of our church, community, and nation.
  • That the weather gets better in California that will help curtail the wildfires that are burning up the landscape and ripping apart lives as great numbers of people and families are losing so much.
  • And, for the Church and all Christians. We need to be better people.

Of course, our regular petitions for the sick and needy, asking for greater faith so we can trust God more, and for our church’s leadership here in New Milford.


Health Living Hope Morning Coffee

Jesus and Breakfast

My go-to breakfast is simple: Oatmeal, mashed up banana, 2 tablespoons of ground up flax seed. Quick. Easy. Nutritious.

It is a very filling breakfast – lunch is rarely on my schedule nowadays. As my doctor explained, this simple meal clocks in with around 10 grams of fiber and eating this amount can keep you full for a while.

Yesterday, someone asked me what Jesus ate for breakfast.

Good question.

I know he didn’t eat Apple Jacks or Fruit Loops. And I’m guessing a grilled peanut butter and jelly wasn’t in his diet.

Fish and nuts and flatbread and olives and fruits and vegetables were staples of the region of Israel. He probably ate some combination of those foods to start his day. Oh, and garlic.

Why garlic?

The Israelites loved garlic, they even complained about the lack of the stuff to Moses in wilderness. 

So I’m thinking that Jesus ate his fair share.

Living Hope