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BUT…

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, despicable, hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:3-7, NRSV)

We were once lost, foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to our own passions and pleasure.

Then God came and saved us from ourselves.

We were once all separated from God BUT then God came in and saved us.

Always remember don’t put a period where God puts a comma…

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Grace

When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it. But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city. The Lord God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?” And he said, “Yes, angry enough to die.” Then the Lord said, “You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labor and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?” (Jonah 3:10–4:11, NRSV)

That is why I ran to Tarshish because I knew you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and ready to relent from punishing, and those people in Ninevah deserve to be punished.

Jonah ran away because he knew God would be gracious. He knew God would forgive them. And he didn’t want that.

Jonah knew who God was and didn’t want to have it that way because it didn’t fit his plan.

And when God took care of him and then took that away he was upset again. Jonah wanted to control everything when nothing was his to control.

Do we let God’s grace work through our lives or do we try to control what happens?

Should God not care for all of His creation and pour grace upon grace over it?

 
 

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rejoice in suffering

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief maker. Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name. For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, what will be the end for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinners?” Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good. (1 Peter 4:12-19, NRSV)

Do not be surprised people are putting you through a fiery ordeal. Or that the world seems to be against you.

You need to rejoice in suffering for the way for the way of the Cross.

Seems a little backwards, rejoice in suffering!

Be glad you are being persecuted?

For God’s glory is shown through this. He will give you strength to withstand. Because you are delivering His message of hope, mercy and grace to the world and they just can not take it, so they make you suffer. So rejoice that you are following after God and know that He will never leave you nor forsake you!

 

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War inside

I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand.For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin. (Romans 7:15-25, NRSV)

Do you feel the tension?

This passage always reminds me of the song War Inside by Todd Agnew (you can hear it below).

Paul here tells the Romans that once God comes in we are new creations and the power in our flesh that wants us to do the things we don’t want to do is sin, and the grace of God is more powerful, but there is a war between grace and sin inside of us every day.

But through the power of God, we can succeed. Not on our own, but through His power, we can do what He needs us to do.

 

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What drives you?

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings; for it is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by regulations about food, which have not benefited those who observe them. We have an altar from which those who officiate in the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood. Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Hebrews 13:1-16, NRSV)

Do not be worried about regulations, but fix your heart in Grace.

Always do good to everyone for you never know when you are entertaining an angel.

Hold everything in honor and live a life worthy of the gospel.

You do this by anchoring your life in the mercy and grace God gave you. And allow that to be the thing that drives you, not rules and regulations.

So be held in grace and nothing else and allow that to move you through life!

 

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who do you serve?

Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification. When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:12-23, NRSV)

Who do you serve?

Do you serve Sin?

Or do you serve God?

You see we are free to do what we want but also when God has set us free from the bondage of sin we are a dutiful servant of all, as Martin Luther said in On Christian Liberty “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject of all, subject to all.” We are either a slave to ourselves or sin or a slave of the most high God.

So be free in the life of grace that God has gifted you with, and let go of the sinfulness that was your life, and live as a servant to God.

 

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Eat and drink

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. (1 Corinthians 11:23-29, NRSV)

Here we have the words of institution most of us use in worship service for celebration of the Lord’s Supper. No, the words don’t come out of a gospel, but an epistle from Paul to the Corinthians. He is telling them what he heard happened, and are the words we still use today.

Eat this bread and drink this cup, they are my body and blood, do this as often as you will in remembrance of me.

But what is an unworthy manner? And how does one examine oneself?

And how does one examine oneself?

And whose body are we discerning?

You can eat and drink judgment on yourself. You can eat and drink salvation on yourself.

How do we know for sure?

Remember what this meal is. And who this meal is. And what He has done for you, broken and poured out for the many.

In that we can then trust in the promises of God and hold fast to His grace.

 

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