Sunday, May 20, 2018

who is a follower?

They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household."
Acts 16:31
This is Paul speaking to the Philippian jailer.


If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 10:9
This again is Paul, writing to the followers of Jesus in Rome.



Like millions of others I watched Harry & Megan get married yesterday.


I watched the congregation sing the incredible hymn, "Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah".


And I wondered how many of the people they showed on the screen really believed those words, who had current & vital relationships with God, & whose lives were truly guided by the great Jehovah.


I looked into the faces of those "royals" & wondered if they had any concept of what they were singing.


And I wondered the same thing when they showed the faces of "celebrities" & other "glitterati" - who among them had any sense of what they were singing.


And when African American bishop from the American Episcopal Church got to preaching, I couldn't help but notice the blank stares from most people from the Queen on down, as well as the tittering amusement many were feeling.


They were SO uncomfortable.


And I wondered about them all, & where they are with God...
     from Harry & Megan (who are SO obviously SO in love!) 
     to everyone else we saw on our screens yesterday.


I'm not optimistic...

Saturday, May 19, 2018

we are God's ambassadors

This is Paul writing here in his second letter to the followers of Jesus in Corinth...


2 Corinthians 5

14 Christ's love controls us.

Since we believe that Christ died for all, 

we also believe that we have all died to our old life.

15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves

Instead, they will live for Christ

who died and was raised for them.



  16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. 

At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. 

How differently we know him now!

17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person

The old life is gone

a new life has begun!


  18 And all of this is a gift from God, 


who brought us back to himself through Christ. 

And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.

19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them

And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.

20 So we are Christ's ambassadors

God is making his appeal through us

We speak for Christ when we plead, "Come back to God!"

21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin

so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Friday, May 18, 2018

the big 2

Mark 12

28 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"

  29 Jesus replied, "The most important commandment is this: 'Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD30 And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.' 31 The second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' No other commandment is greater than these."

  32 The teacher of religious law replied, "Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. 33 And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law."


  34 Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, "You are not far from the Kingdom of God."



What Jesus said can be boiled down into 4 words...


Love God, love others.

LGLO


There we have it - let's go & do likewise.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

34

Anymore, so much of the time I don't feel like I need to explain or comment on a passage from the Bible.

It speaks for itself.

And the Lord speaks through it without any of my help.

So just read this & absorb it...



Psalm 34

1 I will praise the LORD at all times.
  I will constantly speak his praises.
2 I will boast only in the LORD;
  let all who are helpless take heart.
3 Come, let us tell of the LORD's greatness;
  let us exalt his name together.

4 I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me.
  He freed me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
  no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
6 In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened;
  he saved me from all my troubles.
7 For the angel of the LORD is a guard;
  he surrounds and defends all who fear him.

8 Taste and see that the LORD is good.
  Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
9 Fear the LORD, you his godly people,
  for those who fear him will have all they need.
10 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
  but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing.

11 Come, my children, and listen to me,
  and I will teach you to fear the LORD.
12 Does anyone want to live a life
  that is long and prosperous?
13 Then keep your tongue from speaking evil
  and your lips from telling lies!
14 Turn away from evil and do good.
  Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

15 The eyes of the LORD watch over those who do right;
  his ears are open to their cries for help.
16 But the LORD turns his face against those who do evil;
  he will erase their memory from the earth.
17 The LORD hears his people when they call to him for help.
  He rescues them from all their troubles.
18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
  he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

19 The righteous person faces many troubles,
  but the LORD comes to the rescue each time.
20 For the LORD protects the bones of the righteous;
  not one of them is broken!

21 Calamity will surely overtake the wicked,
  and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
22 But the LORD will redeem those who serve him.
  No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

We stink...

We stink... to some.

This is Paul writing in his second letter to the followers of Jesus in Corinth.

I explained a lot then, & it explains a lot now - while some people respond the way they do to those who truly follow Jesus.


2 Corinthians 2

15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. 

But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved 

and by those who are perishing.

16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. 

But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume.


Now, talk about a hmmmm.... 😉

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

keep on...

“Keep on asking, 

and you will receive what you ask for. 

Keep on seeking, 

and you will find. 

Keep on knocking, 

and the door will be opened to you.  

For everyone who asks, 

receives. 

Everyone who seeks, 

finds. 

And to everyone who knocks, 

the door will be opened. 

Matthew 7:7-8



This is Jesus speaking toward the end of what we call The Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew, chapter 5 - 7.


For some time now, I've come to believe the operative words in those 2 verses are "keep on".

Often quit looks good to us, but instead of quitting we need to continue moving ahead.

Someone I know who can be a real truth teller once said that we can never get out of a valley in our lives by sitting down - we have to keep moving forward to walk out of the valley.

I believe that Jesus seems to say here we need to keep our hope intact, to keep pursuing whatever it is we feel directed & compelled to explore.

And this is particularly hard to do when none of our life makes any sense, when obeying & following seems futile, & life only gets harder.


But in verse 8 Jesus gives the kicker - if we keep on, the thing(s) we are pursuing, or working toward, or looking for, all of these things will materialize.

That's hard to believe when we're in the middle of a situation, but easy to believe when we're on the other side, when we've come through a challenge, direction, or desire.


(I hope this is making sense - at this hour sometimes I wonder if I make sense at all! ;-) LOL)


So when you see the comment, "keep on..." in my social media, or in a text, or in a blog, I thinking of these words of Jesus & the encouragement He gave us 2000+ years ago when He spoke them.

Monday, May 14, 2018

5 things

Be on guard.

Stand true to what you believe.

Be courageous.

Be strong.

And everything you do must be done with love.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14



Paul wrote these closing remarks 2000 yrs ago in his first letter to the followers of Jesus living in Corinth.

Corinth was a tough city to live in back then.

(What city wasn't, back then?!)



But what Paul wrote back then applies to us today.

I think we have the first 4 things down.

It's that fifth one that trips us up.

We seem to be good at coming on strong (especially us evangelicals with strong white privilege).

But we seem to be short on the loving part.

Sometimes we use the "stand for what you believe" part as an excuse to be judgmental, insensitive, inappropriate, downright rude, while consigning people to future in hell.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but none of that seems to be our job.

Isn't it the job of the God Holy Spirit to convict?

Isn't it the job of God the Father to judge?

Isn't it the job of God the Son to redeem?

And isn't our job to love - a facet of being a follower of Jesus that seems to be in significantly short supply these days?


And correct me again if I'm wrong, but how many of us would be followers of Jesus today if those who influenced us to follow Him had used a brick bat of condemnation on us?

Weren't most of us wooed & won into believing in Him & following Him by people who reached out to us through the love of God channeling through them?

Yes, these folks led us to see the futility of the direction & arch our thinking & lives was taking us.

But all of it was done in a why & with a spirit of love for us as individuals, not as heathens needing a spiritual kick in the butt - or elsewhere!

The people who showed me the way were more like... 
"hey, look, here's the deal... 
here's what you're missing... 
here's the life being offered you... 
here's Someone who simply wants to love you & be in relationship with you."

And the Holy Spirit reeled me in with that simple, loving presentation.

And I've seen Him do it thousands of times to others.



Yes, be on guard...
& stand true...
& be courageous...
& strong.

But most of all, & strongest & most courageous of all, be loving & caring about the person with whom you're connecting, allowing God to channel His love through you.