November 20, 2020
(11) For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, (12) training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, (13) waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (14) who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
What a wonderful set of verses as we head into Advent next week! We do well to remember each moment, in each breathe, the grace of God has appeared in Christ Jesus, our Lord! We live to the Lord and not to ourselves but with a focus on upright and godly lives in our present as we await the appearing of the Lord in Glory. We are a people of God's own who are to be zealous for good works. Good works of every imaginable kind. It's both the big things and little things. They (the world) will know we are Christians by our love.
Blessings on your day and your night today, all who read this.
November 16, 2020
2 Corinthians 5: 16-21
(16) From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. (17) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (18) All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; (19) that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to the message of reconciliation. (20) For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
New creation in Christ, reconciliation to God in Christ, and in Christ we become the righteousness of Christ.
November 11, 2020
1 Timothy 1:15-17
(15) The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (16) But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (17) To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Paul testifies to what God had done for him in Christ Jesus. Not only for him, but the world. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. Jesus comes to every human in the world offering his grace and love and calling them to him. We are the prodigal son and our God is a loving Father. No matter what you've done--go to him and feel the strength and shelter of his loving embrace.
November 9, 2020
Born Again to a Living Hope
1 Peter 1:3-25
(3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, (4) to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, (5) who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (6) In this you rejoice, through now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, (7) so that the tested genuineness of your faith--more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire--may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (8) Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, (9) obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
(10) Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, (11) inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. (12) It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things they have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
Called to Be Holy
(13) Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (14) As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, (15) but as he who called you holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, (16) since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." (17) And if you call on him as Father who judges, impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, (18) knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, (19) but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (20) He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you. (21) who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
(22) Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly with a pure heart, (23) since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for All flesh is like grass and all its glory is like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever." And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
If you wanted to introduce someone to the Christian faith without reading one of the Gospels, particularly the Gospel of John, this first chapter of 1 Peter is one of the most thorough expositions of the Christian faith I can think of. It would be a good reading for us to read through on a regular basis as it outlines many things about the core of the faith.
God Bless your Day,
October 30, 2020
God's Steadfast Love and Compassion
Micah 7: 18-20
(18) Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. (19) He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. (20) You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.
Micah was prophet that lived in the time of Isaiah. He called out the leaders of Judah and Israel. Micah warns of a coming destruction but also speaks of the coming of a faithful shepherd. This leader will come from Bethlehem and renew the kingdom (Micah 5). This is the same prophet who asks--"What does the Lord Require? "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
The verses above are the last verses of the book of Micah. Good words to take in and sit with.
God Bless your day!
October 23, 2020
Gifts of Grace
(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
The Vineyard of the Lord Destroyed
(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,
October 20, 2020