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chosen

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14, NRSV)

God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. God knew what was going to happen and knew He wanted you as His child.

He destined to adopt us as His children, making us heirs with Christ to the kingdom of God.

I am His child, accepted by Him, loved by Him, forgiven by Him, redeemed by Him, chosen by Him.

You are His child, accepted by Him, loved by Him, forgiven by Him, redeemed by Him, chosen by Him.

You are wanted. Never forget that!

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mercy

So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, “Out of Zion will come the Deliverer; he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.” “And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” As regards the gospel they are enemies of God for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved, for the sake of their ancestors; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all. O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him, to receive a gift in return?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:25-36, NRSV)

Why are you a part of the covenant?

Is it your birth right?

Did you do the right things to be included?

Israel is included even though they are an enemy of God according to the gospel, but according to the election of God, they are chosen. And we who are not a part of Israel are included because of the gospel, and the election of God.

You see it is all based on mercy. God’s mercy freely given to those whom He chooses and those whom He chooses will choose to follow Him.

So rely on God’s mercy and know it is not of your own doing that you are chosen!

 

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must love

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also. (1 John 4:13-21, NRSV)

The commandment we have from Jesus is: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

So that begs the question who are my brothers and sisters?

Is it just those in my church?

Is it just those in my denomination?

Is it just those in my same flavor of Christianity, i.e. Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc?

Who are my sisters and brothers?

Is it all of God’s created people?

We have to love those who are God’s because we say we love God and if we love God then we must love as He loves. And we are able to love because He first loved us. So if you hate your brothers and sisters and say you love God you are a liar.

We must love as He loved.

So go and love the world, not because they deserve it, but because God loves the world!

 

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if you continue…

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”  Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:31-36, NRSV)

If the biggest smallest word in the English language!

“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples.” If you continue means they were listening to and following His words. That is a question for some. But do we continue to listen and follow the words Jesus is saying to us?

They questioned even the statement of being set free, because they are descendants of Abraham, and therefore are a part of God’s chosen people, but have they forgotten this little place called Eygpt? And the years the Israelite people spent there in slavery? Never been slaves to anyone? Really?

But it isn’t about being a slave to a master who is human, could be, but more than that it is about us living a life that is freed from all worries and concerns. It is about us finding joy in the darkness because we are connected to Jesus.

It is about hearing His calling and following. It is about abiding in His word and allowing Him to abide in us.

 

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against

The word of the LORD came to me: Mortal, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel: prophesy, and say to them—to the shepherds: Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, you shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fatlings; but you do not feed the sheep. You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured, you have not brought back the strayed, you have not sought the lost, but with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd; and scattered, they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep were scattered, they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill; my sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with no one to search or seek for them. Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As I live, says the Lord GOD, because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild animals, since there was no shepherd; and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep; therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: Thus says the Lord GOD, I am against the shepherds; and I will demand my sheep at their hand, and put a stop to their feeding the sheep; no longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, so that they may not be food for them. For thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited parts of the land. I will feed them with good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice. (Ezekiel 34:1-16, NRSV)

This passage is a warning to all the leaders in the body of Christ and the people of God to not be self-centered. To look out for the needs of others before yourself. God is speaking of His shepherds that are more concerned with feeding themselves than going after the lost sheep. But is this only about leaders?

Pastors?

Priests?

Bishops?

When these are bad and need to be removed, who steps in? God’s replacement, which comes from where?

God’s replacement, which comes from where?

His body. Which includes you.

So this is not only a warning to current leaders, but to the whole of the people of God. Look out for others, sound familiar doesn’t?

Love the Lord your God, and your neighbor as yourself!

Look out for the other, or God will be against you!

True, but look out for the other, because God came after you!

 

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To Be

170122Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:12-23, NRSV)

Did you know that Jesus called more than 12 disciples?

Yes, it is true, because depending upon which gospel you read the names of the 12 are different, so are they the same people, or different. But even beyond that, Jesus called more than the 12 to be disciples. He called more than the 12 to be apostles. He called more than 12 to be acolytes. (Most confirmation students are happy about this one!)

There are many of us today that talk about being called. I was called to be the pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Little Suamico, WI. And many others are called to be where they are. Actually all of us are called to be where we are.

We are all called to be disciples. Because the word in the Greek that is disciple, μαθητεύω, means to be a learner or a pupil of. Jesus wants all of us to learn from Him.

We are all called to be acolytes. And no I do not mean one who lights candles. The Greek word that we get acolyte from, ἀκολουθέω, means to follow, to accompany. Jesus wants all of us to follow or accompany Him on the journey.

We are all called to be apostles. Because as you have probably guessed the Greek word we get apostle from, ἀποστέλλω, means something, and yes it means to be sent. Jesus sends all of us to go into the world to share His love. He sends us on a journey with Him to show mercy and grace to all.

You see when we talk about being called we get hung up on the what we are called to do. And even though I just set out what we are called to do, Jesus actually just wants us to be. We are called to be, who God has created us to be. A light to the nations. Not to worry about completing a task, but just living out our God given identity through baptism in the world. Being who God created us to be, and showing His grace and mercy to all.

So know you are called to be you.

 

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All are welcome…

170111Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea. (Acts 8:26-40, NRSV)

Baptism is a gift of God and is for everyone.

This eunuch was not a Jew, but was a Gentile.

But that does not keep him from being baptized and accepted as a child of God.

This gift is for all, and comes to us through others and the word of God.

So study the word and help others know how much God loves them.

 

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