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Love One Another

8Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10, NRSV)

Seems pretty easy, doesn’t it. I mean don’t commit adultery, don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t covet all of these are things against our neighbor and if we love our neighbor we will not want to harm them in any way, so we just love.

I mean all of the commandments are about love. Either love of God or love of neighbor. So we love God and we love neighbor, which is everyone other than God, including ourselves.

If we love each other, there will be no issues.

Pretty simple, yet the hardest thing to do.

 

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The Council at Jerusalem

Then certain individuals came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to discuss this question with the apostles and the elders. So they were sent on their way by the church, and as they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, they reported the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the believers. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. But some believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and said, “It is necessary for them to be circumcised and ordered to keep the law of Moses.” The apostles and the elders met together to consider this matter. After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “My brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that I should be the one through whom the Gentiles would hear the message of the good news and become believers. And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us. Now therefore why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” (Acts 15:1-11, NRSV)

Did you hear what Paul said about the Law of Moses? He told the leaders of the church in Jerusalem that is was a yoke that they or their ancestors were unable to bear. That means that none of us have kept this so why are we expecting these Greek who know nothing of our past to do that?

Why do we place standards on people when God has accepted them as they are?

You see we want new believers to know what we know and act like we do. We have a hard time accepting that God has brought them as God brought us, as we are. Change happens instantly but also takes time. You see God changes the heart when the new believer realizes that God loves them, but their life may not change completely as quick as their heart did. That takes time, and to place the burdens of a life they have not lived on them at the very onset and a life that not even believers followed! Grace is what saves us, not doing the right things at the right time.

Don’t place a yoke on someone you yourself do not bear and bear it rightly.

 

 

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watch

See, just as the LORD my God has charged me, I now teach you statutes and ordinances for you to observe in the land that you are about to enter and occupy. You must observe them diligently, for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people!” For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is whenever we call to him? And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this entire law that I am setting before you today? But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children—how you once stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when the LORD said to me, “Assemble the people for me, and I will let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me as long as they live on the earth, and may teach their children so”; you approached and stood at the foot of the mountain while the mountain was blazing up to the very heavens, shrouded in dark clouds. Then the LORD spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. He declared to you his covenant, which he charged you to observe, that is, the ten commandments; and he wrote them on two stone tablets. And the LORD charged me at that time to teach you statutes and ordinances for you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy. Since you saw no form when the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire, take care and watch yourselves closely, so that you do not act corruptly by making an idol for yourselves, in the form of any figure—the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth. And when you look up to the heavens and see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, do not be led astray and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples everywhere under heaven. But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of the iron-smelter, out of Egypt, to become a people of his very own possession, as you are now. (Deuteronomy 4:5-20, NRSV)

I now teach… Moses is talking for the last time to the Israelites about their going into the promised. He is reminding them to remember everything they have been taught, so they will live the lives that God has set before them.

All of us are now in the same place Moses was. Reminding our sisters and brothers to watch themselves. To remember all they have been commanded. To teach our children and their children the ways of God so that we might live the lives He has set before us.

So watch yourself. And live the life God has set before you to live.

 

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reckoned

We say, ‘Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.’ How then was it reckoned to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them, and likewise the ancestor of the circumcised who are not only circumcised but who also follow the example of the faith that our ancestor Abraham had before he was circumcised. (Romans 4:9b-12, NRSV)

If we hold to a religious system we are trying to work our way in to the good graces of God.

Paul had to tell the Romans, that grace was a gift, not because of anything we had done. It was faith and grace that brought us to a saving relationship with God and not following a set of codes set down as a religious system.

You see Abraham did not receive his acceptance with God because of his circumcision. Abraham received his circumcision as a sign of the righteousness he received from God!

So the physical sign is not what saved Abraham, but the physical sign was a reminder to him and an outward sign of God’s inner work!

Do not be fooled by anyone that tells you that we must trust in the laws and systems of religion. Only God can save you, not following the system or trusting in any thing other than the grace we receive by faith through Jesus Christ!

 

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Appear

Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ They were saying, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, “I have come down from heaven”?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, “And they shall all be taught by God.” Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’ (John 6:41-51, NRSV)

Those who heard Jesus were complaining about Him, because they thought they knew Him…

That doesn’t happen today does it? Do we always agree on the way things should go and what things are? We always agree as the body of Christ on what is sinful, and what is not… We use the the word of God to prove our own points of view and leave out the possibility that another member of the body of Christ might have a different understanding then us and could be right. We are hung up on the “way we have always done it” and “that is what I learned in Sunday School” that we lose sight of Jesus.

The Pharisees knew Jesus as the son of the carpenter Joseph, and that is who He was. They could not hear His words to make Him to be even a prophet, or to the length they needed to go that He was God incarnate before them. And because they could not look beyond what they could see or had known, they could not live into the life that was right in front of them!

Only God can call us to Him, as Martin Luther said in his explanation of the third article of the Apostles Creed:

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.

We are called to God and when we open our hearts and lives to Him we will be able to see what He has set before us and see things in the light and follow Him. It is not about believing the right things, or following the right set of doctrines. It is about loving and following Jesus where He leads us, into the unknown for us, but what is truly known and set in place before the beginning of time by Him. So look not on appearances but look through the eyes of God!

 

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