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Transformed Lives

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. 3For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness. (Romans 12:1-8, NRSV)

We are all the body of Christ. I pray each week that we will be united as the body of Christ, that what joins us together would be enough to keep us together and the things that we have created that separate us would be pushed aside. Here in Romans 12, we read one of the three passages about the body of Christ and the many members that make it up. We all have our role to play and we need each other to make this work. We can not fight each other but must be united in the ministry that God has given us.

We all have a gift to us and we must use it for the betterment of society. Martin Luther said a Christian shoemaker doesn’t show his faith by putting crosses on his shoes, but by making the best shoes he can for everyone. We use our gifts for the glory of God and for the betterment of society. We are all in this together and we should work with each other.

Let your life be transformed by God and show His love to all the world.

 

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Paul and Silas

36 After some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Come, let us return and visit the believers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.’ 37Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38But Paul decided not to take with them one who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not accompanied them in the work.39The disagreement became so sharp that they parted company; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. 40But Paul chose Silas and set out, the believers commending him to the grace of the Lord.41He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. (Acts 15:36-41, NRSV)

Don’t think that disagreements in the church are anything new.

Jesus faced them, and it happened long before that.

Paul and Barnabas disagreed about who should be included in their journey, but they settled it by going separate ways. Not different ways. They went to share the good news of Jesus.

Can we disagree and move forward still sharing God’s love?

 

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The Kingdom is Divided

Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard of it (for he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), then Jeroboam returned from Egypt. And they sent and called him; and Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and said to Rehoboam, “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke that he placed on us, and we will serve you.” He said to them, “Go away for three days, then come again to me.” So the people went away. Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the older men who had attended his father Solomon while he was still alive, saying, “How do you advise me to answer this people?” They answered him, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.”But he disregarded the advice that the older men gave him, and consulted with the young men who had grown up with him and now attended him. He said to them, “What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke that your father put on us’?” The young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus you should say to this people who spoke to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you must lighten it for us’; thus you should say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins. Now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’” So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had said, “Come to me again the third day.” The king answered the people harshly. He disregarded the advice that the older men had given him and spoke to them according to the advice of the young men, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” So the king did not listen to the people, because it was a turn of affairs brought about by the Lord that he might fulfill his word, which the Lord had spoken by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam son of Nebat. When all Israel saw that the king would not listen to them, the people answered the king, “What share do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, O David.” So Israel went away to their tents. But Rehoboam reigned over the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah. When King Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was taskmaster over the forced labor, all Israel stoned him to death. King Rehoboam then hurriedly mounted his chariot to flee to Jerusalem. So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day. When all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. There was no one who followed the house of David, except the tribe of Judah alone. When Rehoboam came to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, one hundred eighty thousand chosen troops to fight against the house of Israel, to restore the kingdom to Rehoboam son of Solomon. But the word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God: Say to King Rehoboam of Judah, son of Solomon, and to all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, “Thus says the Lord, You shall not go up or fight against your kindred the people of Israel. Let everyone go home, for this thing is from me.” So they heeded the word of the Lord and went home again, according to the word of the Lord. (1 Kings 12:1-24, NRSV)

When we do not listen to the voice of wisdom we fall prey to the voice that will lead us to look out for ourself. This will cause us to harm others and not look out for their best interest. We will feed the unholy trinity of me, myself and I. And that will always lead to division.

Why did the kingdoms have to split?

Did Jeroboam and Rehoboam have to be opposing rulers in the region of the 12 tribes? Was it their selfishness that caused this?

How can we follow after God and help to keep His body together and not cause division?

 

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The Inescapable God

For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.

How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

I try to count them—they are more than the sand; I come to the end—I am still with you.

(Psalm 139:13-18, NRSV)

I will praise God because God knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Everything about me was formed together by God and I am wonderfully made and perfect in the eyes of my creator!

He is worthy of our praise for the way we are made!

 

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Worship Life

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47, NRSV)

They were all together and devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, breaking of bread, meaning eating together, and prayers.

They took care of each other, as they were devoted to God and community.

And God showed others what was happening and added to their numbers daily.

This is worship life.

And for the follower of Christ, this is life.

 

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Casts out fear…

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. 16 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)

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Wise words from a wise Jedi…

Fear does nothing but destroy. When we fear something we get angry. When our anger gets to the point of us doing something we have already begun to hate the thing we are going against. And that hatred will lead us to do things we would not have done otherwise. We will cause suffering…

But true love, found in the Father casts out all fear. It gives no room for fear to grow or live.

If we are truly consumed by the love of God through Jesus Christ, we will not fear what the world will do or say because of the love we show. But the love we show must be shown as love. We can not claim to be giving the love of Jesus if the world sees it as hate. Hate and love are never the same. Jesus loved us even when we were not worthy to be in His presence because of our sin. We must do the same for the world. The body of Christ is not a place for those who have it all together. The body of Christ is a hospital full of recovering sinners.

We must love all the world and help them see the love that Jesus has for them.

 

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selfie

He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them. Then he looked up at his disciples and said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. ‘Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. ‘Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. ‘Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. ‘But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.  ‘Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. ‘Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. ‘Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets. (Luke 6:17-26, NRSV)

Like the Matthew version you might have heard this weekend, Jesus is just plain blessing people here. He is not setting up conditions by which you could be blessed. He is saying that the poor, hated, excluded, reviled, defamed, those who are weeping are blessed. Not because of what they have, what they’ve done, or what the have been through. Simple because God can and does bless those the world does not deem acceptable.

But then Jesus goes on to say that if you are not looking out for the other, than you are not doing what God has called us to do. If you are hungry and know of others who aren’t then there is an issue. You see there is nothing we can do to be blessed, but once we are blessed, we are blessed to be a blessing. Not to continue the blessing, but because we were first blessed.

We can not selfie our way through life. We can not make it on our own, we need others.

So do not claim to have it all together and that you don’t need anyone else. But be a part of the community in giving and receiving.

 

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