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Walls

Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality,  but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:34-43, NRSV)

God shows no partiality. We were all sinners saved by grace, we need to see God in our fellow man. As I read this passage and the tag line that goes with it on the Milestones Ministry Taking Faith Home sheet, I thought about the old DC Talk song Walls. We need to work are taking down the things that separate us and focus on what unites us. God is the uniting factor that sought each of us before we were worthy to be in His presence.

So remember everyone is welcome to the throne, and let us see God in our neighbor and help them see the love God has for them!

 

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you are all children

160620Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.  (Galatians 3:23-29, NRSV)

There is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female. We are all one.

Anything that we use or see that separates us, is no longer in play because we are all children of God. Named and claimed by God in our baptisms as co-heirs with Christ.

We belong to Christ and are a part of His body.

We are all His children.

 

 

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Brought down the wall!

So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by those who are called ‘the circumcision’—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, so that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God. (Ephesians 2:11-22, NRSV)

You who were once far off have now been brought in to the fold.

The compound fence has been brought down!

Jesus took the barrier that once kept some out out of the way. No longer is there anything but ourselves keeping us from being a part of the fold.

Jesus took what was two separate entities and made them into one. He took two nationalities and made them one body.

So now we are united in the blood of Christ and that is stronger than anything that could cause hostility between us.

Let’s rejoice that God through Jesus has made a way for all to be a part of this wonderful life giving party!

 

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What can separate…

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39, NRSV)

How many things get in the way of you going about your daily routine?

Changes in the kids schedule.

Road work. Accidents.

Your usual machine at the gym being used or broken.

Someone stopping to talk to you as you get ready to work out.

The usual clerk at the coffee shop not being there and having to explain your drink.

Seems petty when we read it this way, but not when we experience it. If you are a schedule person and something throws that schedule off it gets in the way of your life.

But Paul tells us and the Romans that nothing can get in the way of our relationship with God. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Not life or death.

Not rulers or angels.

Not things to come or things present.

Not depths or heights.

Not powers.

Not anything .

Wether you are alive or dead, God will be with you.

Neither a ruler or a messenger can keep you from God.

Nothing to come or that is already here can keep you from God.

No matter how far you think you are from God, He is right there.

No power good or evil can keep you from the love that God has for you.

Not anything can keep God’s love from you. Nothing can separate you from Him!

 

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what separates us

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness. No one enters suit justly; no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies, they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity. They hatch adders’ eggs; they weave the spider’s web; he who eats their eggs dies, and from one that is crushed a viper is hatched. Their webs will not serve as clothing; men will not cover themselves with what they make. Their works are works of iniquity, and deeds of violence are in their hands. Their feet run to evil, and they are swift to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; desolation and destruction are in their highways. The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked; no one who treads on them knows peace. (Isaiah 59:1-8, ESV)

Behold the Lord’s hand is not shortened and His ear is not dull. He can always reach you and hear you…

So when it feels like you are far from Him, why is that?

The psalmist makes it clear “your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” It is all our doing that moves us away from God. Our nature is what creates the chasm. We are sinners, and that is what God can not be around. Our hands “are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness.” We look out for our own good, and try to make ourselves better than we are. We are looking out for number 2. (Ok really that is number 1, but we are not number 1, we are number 2…) We do things that raise us in stature and the eyes of the public. We do it for business and if we are honest we do it in the church. God sees all of this and this is what is keeping Him from us. Motivation is the key… What motivates you do to what you do, is it sacrificial or is it for your own gain?

But back to our sin… Yes we are all sinners and it can define us, it would be very easy to just write down all of the things we have done wrong and define our selves by this list, but God can and will release us from this list. As the picture above shows us, and Paul told the Romans (8:38-39) “nothing can separate us from the love of God through Christ Jesus.”

Do not be defined by the sin that separates you from God, but allow God to redefine you!

 

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