Posts by Scott Bryant

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Yes your majesty. 0

As a American citizen it boggles the mind to consider that Kings and Queens still exist in our world. TV shows, fairy tales, and movies have taught us that when Kings and Queens give instructions the proper response, and the only response if you want to remain alive, is “yes your majesty.” We see this over and over in history as well as Kings and Queens ruled their nations and citizens obeyed their directives. The Psalm reading for today, Psalm 8:1-9 reminds us that there is only one King, God, the creator of the world. “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”(vs. 1) Creation itself reminds the Psalmist of how powerful and amazing the Creator is and the Psalmist is blown away that God, who is indeed omnipotent, wants to be in a relationship with us. “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (vs.3-4)

God not only wants a relationship with us but wants us to be a part of what He is doing in the world. It is humbling to consider that God has a role for us to play in the salvation story that is being played out all over the world. “Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet” (vs. 5-6). What a privilege it is to have an assignment from God, to do the work we are called to do, as we serve the one true King of all creation. When we hear directions and promptings from God, I pray our response is quick and clear, “yes your majesty.”

Remember that we are participating in a marathon and not a sprint. Be encouraged that you have made it more than halfway through. If you have dropped out for awhile and missed some days, then start back up today. This is a not a litmus test to prove your devotion to God, but rather an opportunity to spend time reading God’s word throughout the year.

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I hear you God but I’ve got a better idea 1

Today’s Old Testament scripture reveals that God wants simple obedience and trust in Him and His commands. Saul is given an instruction by the prophet of God Samuel to destroy all of the Amalekites and all of their possessions. Instead of obeying God’s instruction Saul set aside Agag, the Amalekite King and the best of the sheep, oxen, fattened calves, and lambs. Saul decided that he knew better than God. In Saul’s mind, God didn’t offer an instruction He just offered a suggestion.

As a result of his disobedience God rejected Saul as King. Samuel confronted Saul about his disobedience and plainly said these words, “to obey is better than sacrifice” (I Samuel 15:22). Saul had his excuses ready to explain why he didn’t obey God’s instruction. Samuel wasn’t interested in Saul’s rationale for disobedience and simply informed Saul that God rejected him as King.

We have our excuses ready too don’t we. Often times we know exactly what God has instructed us to do and yet we rationalize away obedience and develop numerous excuses as to why we decided to ignore God’s instruction in order to do something that we determined to be a better idea. Often times we forget how the world is organized because we have ourselves at the center instead of maintaining an awe and reverence for the Lord that would keep Him and His commands at the center of our world.

As our creator, God knows what is best for us. Obedience may be difficult but that is what God wants from us. Simple faith and trust in Him that demonstrates that we acknowledge He knows best.

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Teach Us to Number Our Days 0

The New Testament reading for April 9 fit perfectly with our chapel guest, Bailey Heard. Bailey’s husband Andrew passed away last year from lung cancer at the age of 30.  Bailey shared an inspirational story of Andrew’s determination to make the most of every moment that he had left on this earth.  Following his diagnosis of cancer he went on to write two books.  A Gray FaithWalking Through the Dark Parts of This Life, is about walking in faith during difficult and challenging trials.  The second book was an Alphabet picture book of animals for his daughter Ellie.  He drew an animal for each letter and included an inspirational quote on each page as well.

Andrew’s determination to complete those books after his diagnosis is such an inspiration to me.  He could have easily decided to spend his time focusing on himself and doing all the things that he enjoyed doing.  Instead he felt compelled to finish the book because he wanted it to be a lasting testimony of his faith that would serve as an encouragement to others.

Luke 13:1-9 is an interesting parable that is only found in Luke’s gospel.  The crowd asked Jesus if a group of Gentiles that were murdered by Pilate deserved to die in such a horrific manner.  Jesus responded to say that there is no equation at work that justifies or explains why bad things happen to people.  Human nature wants an explanation for things and we often jump to a similar conclusion when something bad happens to someone as we wonder “what did they do to deserve that?”  The answer that Jesus provides, “but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” is a great reminder for us.  Notice Jesus rejected the notion that they deserved to be murdered but emphasized that all of us will die and it is most important that we be prepared no matter when or why the death occurs.  Of course we want answers and explanations but Jesus reminds us that the most important element is that we acknowledge our need for him and recognize Him as the Son of God while we have the opportunity.

In the same way, Andrew Heard reminds us to live our lives with meaning and purpose as we don’t know when our lives will end.  We have not been promised long and healthy lives but we must be faithful with the life we are given, no matter how long that life may be. In the words of the Psalmist: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

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Remember what God has done 0

As people age it seems that they often begin to have trouble remembering things.  When an older person forgets something they often blame it on having a “senior moment.”  The Old Testament selection and the Psalm selection for today encourage us all to remember all that God has done for us.  The book of Leviticus can appear to be filled with instructions for strict observances and long-forgotten practices but the thrust of the book is a reminder to remember who God is and what he has done.  For example, in the same way that God created the world in six days and then took a day of rest, God’s people are to remember the sabbath in honor of God.  The precise instructions regarding the observance of the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Booths can distract us from the reason behind these events and that is to take the time to remember all that God has done.

One of the reasons God emphasizes the need to remember all that he has done is so that the people of God will pass on the stories to their children and grandchildren.  The people of God who experienced the Exodus and were liberated from slavery had an amazing story to tell of God’s salvation and provision for his people.  The reading from Psalm 44 gives us proof that at least some of the Israelites who experienced the Exodus passed the stories down to their children.  Psalm 44:1 reads, “O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old;.”

These readings remind me of the importance of sharing with others the ways in which God works in our lives.  As we share what God has done in our lives we offer encouragement and hope to those around us, including some who may be waiting for God to provide in a significant way.  Before we are able to share with others we have to make sure that we don’t forget all that God has done.  By reflecting on what God has done in the past we are then able to trust that God will continue to show up and provide and meet our needs in the future.  May each of us take a moment to reflect on all that God has done for us.

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Childlike faith 2

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’  And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 19:1-4

This reading from Monday, January 27, really hit home for me.  Jesus is communicating a core element of what it means to be a follower of God and that is our dependence on Him.  As babies enter the world they are dependent upon Mom and Dad for literally everything.  Even as the babies grow and mature into children they continue to rely on Mom and Dad for most everything including food, shelter, and clothing.  I recognize that children eventually begin to complain about the food and want specific clothing but I like to focus on the more innocent days of youth.  Most parents strive to provide for their children so that the children do not have to worry about basic necessities including what clothes they are going to wear or what food they are going to eat.  Most children I encounter do not contribute financially to the the family and simply are provided for by the work of their parents.  They also freely accept the provision that Mom and Dad offer without complaint.  (Again I am thinking of pre-teens).

When it comes to my relationship with God do I maintain a childlike faith that recognizes my dependence upon God or do I act as if I can contribute something such as my own acts of righteousness in order to gain God’s favor?  This passage reminds us that we need to maintain an attitude of utter dependence upon God, who has made a way for us to be in a relationship with Him.  We often try to earn the favor and praise of others through our actions and accomplishments and yet God wants us to come to Him in utter dependence contributing nothing but our pure and sincere faith that God loves us and accepts us and has made a way for us.

Salvation at its core is the recognition that as human beings we need God.  Because of our sin we are unable to take steps toward God and yet, graciously God has taken a giant step toward us.  God, the creator of the universe (including humanity), has made a way for us to be in an eternal relationship with Him through Jesus.  What a gift for us.  Let us all remember to approach God as innocent faith-filled children who simply accept what is offered.

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Off to a great start 1

Thank you again for participating in ETBU’s Bible 2014 initiative.  Over 200 students, faculty, and staff have committed themselves to reading the Bible from beginning to end in 2014.  It is such an encouragement to know that so many are participating.  Remember that this exercise is a marathon and not a sprint.  Try to establish a pattern for your reading time so that it becomes a regular part of your daily routine.  The hope is that reading the Bible becomes as normal as brushing your teeth.  As with brushing your teeth, you and those close to you know when you do it and I would say the same is true for reading the scriptures as those we come in contact with can probably determine whether or not we have been reading the Bible by our behavior and attitude.

This blog is a way for us to stay connected to one another throughout the year.  We will have different people writing blog entries throughout the year.  Participants are able to add their comments to the discussion as well.  Our hope is that this tool will be a source of encouragement and inspiration for you.

In the Matthew 9 reading from January 12 I was reminded of why Jesus came to this earth as he was called out by the Pharisees for spending time with and associating with tax collectors and sinners.  When the Pharisees asked the disciples why Jesus associated with such characters of low or no moral credibility Jesus made it a point to answer their question.  He responded: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but the sinners.”

This is such a great reminder for me that Jesus loves people exactly where they are.  I’m so thankful that Jesus came to earth for sinners like us.  It is easy to read this passage and think like the Pharisees and be grateful that we are not like the sinners that Jesus was hanging out with.  And yet, if we are honest with ourselves we realize that we are included in the word “sinners” and we need to be thankful and rejoice that Jesus was willing to come to earth to show us sinners how to live.  Our compassion for others begins with the recognition that all of us sin and fall short of the glory of God.  All of us are in need of God’s grace and I am thankful that our efforts of righteousness are considered worthless compared to the righteousness of Christ. I’m also thankful that, because of the blood of Jesus, God sees the righteousness of Christ and not my sinfulness.  Thank God that in Christ we can indeed be a new creation.  May we continue to spread the news that all people can be made new in Christ.