October 23, 2020

Daily Reading

Gifts of Grace

Romans 12:3-8

(3) For by the grace of given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (4) For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, (5) so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. (6) Having gifts that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; (7) if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. 


Paul states he has been given a certain "grace" which allows him to speak to the community of believers. From the beginning of Romans he has noted he has received "grace and apostleship" from Christ in order to bring about the obedience of faith among all the nations for the sake of his name. Grace in these verses is the divine gift to empower Paul for the tasks the Lord puts before him. 

Paul desires that all should not think more highly in comparison to that which is necessary to think, but to think so as to be "sober". The measure of faith is not a quality (some with more or some with less) or a "standard" of faith, but rather God has measured out to each individual an ability to think with sober judgement. This faith means Christian ability to think of oneself in a proper way. It is contra claims to superiority. Remember Philippians 2 and the example of Christ lowliness and road to the cross we preached on this last summer? Here it is highlighted by Paul in Romans. 

October 21, 2020

Daily Reading

The Vineyard of the Lord Destroyed

Isaiah 5:2

(1) Let me sing for my beloved my song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. (2) He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. (3) And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. (4) What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done for it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? 

(5) And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall and it shall be trampled down. (6) I will make it a waste; It shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up; I will command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.

(7) For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold bloodshed; for righteousness, and behold, and outcry!'


In Bible study this week we read and examined the saying of Jesus from the Gospel of John the 15th chapter that presents Jesus as the true vine and the Father as the vinedresser. I thought I would give you this reading from the prophet Isaiah to think about in terms of the saying/teaching of Jesus in John 15. Israel in the OT is described as the vineyard of God. As you read the Isaiah verses you might get some insight into the imagery Jesus uses in John 15. Jesus speaks about the branch that doesn't bear fruit be "taken away" (v2) and the one who doesn't abide in him is "thrown away like a branch and withers" (v6). It goes to show you at some level that in both the OT and NT the vine-vineyard- pruning language is employed by Jesus to speak about judgement and a lack of connection to God or turning away.  

These verses from John 15: 1-17 can perhaps be better understood if you see them through this reading from the prophet Isiah. Also, remember Jesus' first "sign" in John's Gospel is the turning of the water into wine. Wine symbolizing the life and abundance of God in Jesus. The importance of fruit bearing in God's kingdom is clear in both of these readings. 

Peace in Christ,

Pastor Mark

October 20, 2020

Daily Reading:

Put On the New Self

Colossians 3: 1-17

(1) If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (2) Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (3) For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (4) When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 

(5) Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (6) On account of these the wrath of God is coming. (7) In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. (8) But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices (10) and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. (11) Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.

(12) Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, (13) bearing with one another and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (14) And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (15) And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (16) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (17) And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father


Ok. I'm going to spend some time almost every day picking out a scripture and reflecting on it. Join me! I'm not going to structure it so I pick out a scripture in advance, but I'm going to let the Holy spirit lead me to one. Today, a fellow pastor from Staples, MN, was reading and offering commentary on this section of Colossians, so this is why I chose it. So it will go almost every day as I pick one out. 

Colossians 3. What a powerful reading! "Put on" the new self. Its baptismal language. In the ancient church they would often be baptized naked or with a loin cloth and when they came out of the water, a bright white robe was put around them to signify everything Paul is speaking about in Colossians 3. It begins with the fact Jesus has been raised from the dead! The most pivotal event in the history of the world. If it is--set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth. Does this mean we aren't to care about the earth, or care about justice, or be engaged in works of love? No, we must be about those things, but its by focusing on what God has done for us in Jesus that we are energized and driven to know Christ in heaven, to worship God, the Father. We are a new creation as Paul points out in other letters.

If this is true (and it is), we put to death those things that are the way of death and put on, as God's chosen ones, the things of God to revolutionize the world in the name of Jesus! Above all (1 Corinthians 13), we put on love. We let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. Yes! Who doesn't need the peace of Christ? And we BE thankful! If anyone wants to know how to live in the Spirit and be changed or transformed into this new creation by God in Christ, here it is! 

Do EVERYTHING in the name of the Lord Jesus! I hope you have a great rest of your day. Remember--you have put on Christ! 

Be well and Peace,

Pastor Mark