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Monthly Archives: June 2017

Signed. Sealed. Delivered.

What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it?Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:1-11, NRSV)

Signed. Sealed. Delivered. I’m yours!!!

So when we become God’s child, accepted by Him can we continue as we were?

It is the before and after pictures, you see all the time on Facebook and the internet. And sometimes I wonder if they are really pictures with no filters and if the change is there. I actually just read an article that talked about an Australian personal trainer that debunked before and after photos to sell products by doing a before and after change in 15 minutes!

But this change, the signed, sealed, delivered change of God, the change that Paul is discussing with the Romans, is not a fifteen minute make it look like something has changed. When God comes into your world, your world changes, and you can not continue the path you were on before.

You have been changed and the world should see it.

So be raised as a child of God and allow His light to shine in and through you.

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whose

for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him. Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us. (2 Timothy 1:7-14, NRSV)

We are not held under a spirit of fear or cowardice, we were given a spirit of power to boldly speak the truth of God to all around us.

We have been given power and grace to reveal His love to the nations through the testimony of our lives.

So speak boldly and in power, not ashamed of who you are but holding fast to whose you are.

Speak of the love you were given to the world so they may know that they are loved as you are loved.

 

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abide in love

”I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. (John 15:1-17, NRSV)

Love one another and abide in me.

Jesus tells the disciples how they are connected to Him in a way they can understand. Some scholars even believe that Jesus was walking through a vineyard when this discussion happened, because there was a vineyard close by where they would have been walking that night, as you see this is part of the farewell discourse that happened the night He was arrested. Jesus is the vine that runs between us and connects us together and with the Father and when we abide in Him, we abide in each other and the Father.

So if we abide in Jesus we will bear fruit. We will bear the fruit of love.

So abide in love and bear the fruit which the world needs.

 

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estimate the cost

Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. “Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; they throw it away. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” (Luke 14:25-35, NRSV)

How many of us would undertake an addition to our homes without figuring out how much it would cost and if we could do it first?

None of us, yet I still remember a building in lower Michigan from my first call in Northern Ohio that was standing incomplete, because whoever started building it ran out of financial support in the middle of construction so a shell of a building stand where a completed structure should be.

We all can hit hard times though and things can happen so even if we estimate and calculate the costs unseen hindrances may arise.

But if any of us calculated the cost of following Jesus could we do it?

Hate mother, father, sisters, brothers and even life itself?

Could we?

I think if we are honest, none of us can do this on our own, but with the help of God, all things are possible.

So calculate the cost and know you can’t, but take a hold of God’s hand and know you can.

 

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ὀπίσω μου

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? (Matthew 16:21-26, NRSV)

ὀπίσω μου. Literally, this means get behind me.

When Peter rebuked Jesus, Jesus rebuked him. Peter did not understand the plan and what needed to happen, and so tried to force his plan on God. To quote the beginning of the movie, My Sister’s Keeper, “if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans!”

You see Jesus tells all of us to come along with Him, but he also says ὀπίσω μου. We need to know our place with Jesus, He is our friend and our brother, but he is also our Lord and our Master, and we need to see the back of His head when we are following Him.

So are you ready to give you our plans and ὀπίσω μου?

 

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Peace or truth?

His eye is on the sparrow, quilt made by Judy Hand Pitts.

“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household! “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:24-39, NRSV)

What do we want in life?

There are many times we will not speak the truth because we want peace.

Other times we stand up for what we know is right and we speak the truth in love and are met with a troubled response. The serene peaceful come back we expected did not happen. And in the words of Angie Thomas, “Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”

Things still go wrong because we can not bear the truth sometimes. We can not let go of the past and move into the reality that God is calling us into.

This sword that Jesus says He is bringing is not one we are yielding out of spite, it is one that is yielded out of love, because people are laying down their lives and following after Jesus and others can not see the love that Jesus has for them. They are put against those they loved because they do not see as their loved one sees. They do not comprehend as their loved one comprehends. And there for there is not peace. There is anger and hurt. But this is not a reason to stop with the truth.

So be diligent in speaking the truth and know that in time God’s peace will come.

 

 

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Sing!

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing. Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100, NRSV)

Come into the presence of the Lord singing!

Make music before the Lord, let us worship Him with gladness and make a joyful noise!

Give thanks always to the Lord for He is good and His love endures forever!

He will always be faithful to His promises and we should bless His name!

 

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