Archive for category #2021

John 20:19-31 “Hands and Breath of Peace and Faith”

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So, the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. [NRSA: John 20:19-31]

a kid with multicolored hand paint
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  • Show Me You Hands
  • Breathe On Me Your Peace
  • Help My Unbelief
  • SO, that I have life in Christ!

If you are a card player you know that one of the basic rules is that you never show your hand to the other players so that they do not have an advantage. Part of the strategy is to hold your cards closely. Many people do that with their thoughts and feelings. It is typically a good business idea to wait and see what your customer wants or what your competition is doing.

Before the fearful disciples asked, Jesus, reveals his hands. He shows them the marks of the nails from the cross. He shows them the proof and evidence that the person standing before them is the same person who was crucified and sealed in a tomb three days prior.

What does it mean that Jesus shows us to reveal God’s hand. Not only his physical hands, but he reveals God’s heart, God’s plan, and God’s expectations.

In the midst of their fear, Jesus breathes the breath of peace. One of the best ways to reduce our blood pressure or to deal with a stressful situation is the be attentive to our breathing. Thankful breathing is one of the basic motor skills we do not have to think about all the time, but in our fight or flight times of fear, we breathless or the quality of our breathing is shallow and hurried.

Jesus steps in the room.

  •  Breathes peace into the room and shows his hands.
  • What would it look or feel like if in a time of frustration, anger, fear, doubt, or grief… we had someone interrupt our normal and automated actions and call us to faith and peace?
  • Here are two gifts that Jesus gives to the disciples that we as Resurrection People must give to one another and to the world.

It is clear we are living in this season of fear in our health, fear in political uncertainties, fear of global economies, and in the unknown of what these larger fears make on our family’s security, mobility, happiness, and unity. Part of Jesus’s witness is to become those who speak and breathe the Holy Spirit into our daily lives.

Speaking the Holy Spirit

  • Is a prayer,
  • An invitation,
  • Framing the context,
  • Reminding the faith
  • Singing the chorus
  • Causes us to focus on where we find our strength,

Returning to the pace and rhythm of being in fellowship and union when we know God is present.

Exercise of Breathing:

  1. Inhale for four counts and exhale with five long with the last stretched out.

Blood oxygen measurement… take your pulse before and after,

  • Step it up but slowing down and Adding to the physical shifting intentional breathing, the prayers of request and release.

Breathing are prayers for peace going in

Breathing out and prayers for forgiveness going out

  • Place your hand in someone else and pray and breath aloud, taking turns one speaking and one listening and then swap roles. (Now some have stress about what to say if you don’t know repeat either Jesus Loves Us or Lord have mercy.)

You can show God’s hand by breathing and prayer with someone.

You have seen mothers and fathers in baby deliver classes breathing together and talking through pain and suffering.

Jesus shows his hands… There are appropriate and inappropriate touches, and we are more and less comfortable with touching people we trust or not, but offering to show our hand, is a gift of trust for someone else.

Jesus knows what the disciples need and offers his breath, prayer, hands, and touch. Did you know that the only time some people have positive physical contact with someone else is when they see their family/friends, visit the doctor, AND when they come to church and fellowship?

Even more than praying and breathing it is becoming vulnerable for the world, to find the peace, faith, and relationship we already know.  

Jesus could have come in a said to the disciples I am so disappointed that you are hiding just when I need you to be out bolding sharing the Good News.

He, Instead, comforts the fears, fills them with the Spirit, and THEN calls them to faithfulness. We must be able and willing to reach out as recovering sinners, into a world of sin, and join with others to share the faith, proof, breath, power, word, guidance, and strength that we find in Christ, in the Spirit, for God.

The big picture is that we are living in Christ…

We are living in Christ when we are showing the world and one another the love God in midst of our fears and failures.

Part of the message Jesus is giving to the disciples is handing over the reins of the church, we are now the body of Christ, God’s work is now being entrusted to our hands, our words, our prayers, our breath, our song, our witness because the world continue to run after sin, darkness, greed, fear, power, wealth, and self.

Remember the old VBS song, He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands. Not everyone had taken the offer of our guidance and grace. We are all called to believe and guide one another to trust God to Handle our lives and the universe.

  • Take a breath,
  • Remember the peace
  • And reveal what Christ has shown you by faith
  • That the world might know life in Christ, salvation, love, joy, and peace!

When is the last time you finger painted, played in the dirt, modeled some clay, use your hands to share faith, peace, and the Spirit… that they may come to trust and believe in Jesus Christ.

Remember the challenge to mentor and disciple at least one person this year… now is the time to get your hands dirty.

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We’ve got work to do!

Now we are alive because Jesus has put fear and death out of business. #gomakedisciples

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John 20:1-18 For Easter 2021

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Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. [NRSA: John 20:1-18]

The response of Disciples

  • All we afraid and experiencing grief.
  • Some went focused on the matters of the burial.
  • Some telling unbelievable stories.
  • Some running toward belief
  • Some looking for proof
  • Some not understanding the scriptures.
  • Some returned to their homes.
  • Some weeping and waiting.

the perfect time for salvation is in the moment of being most aware we are broken, unbelieving, afraid, dead, running, seeking, not understanding, at home, hiding, and weeping, for then we were MOST AWARE of our weakness, brokenness, and inability to bring order to the chaos.

What are you doing this Easter?

In celebration of the greatest event of faith in human history since creation itself, what we doing right now?

Most of the world are not gathered to worship and celebrate the Resurrection. Not only because we have not all thawed from the precautions of pandemic, while the world is connected in communications as never before, most are not celebration a living God, with the power to order chaos, fix and redeem all that is broken, heal and restore life to the dead. Billions are devoted to other ideas, faiths, rationalized explanation, or simple apathy and a lack of concern or fear of acknowledging the emptiness they experience in their own world perspectives.

As a nation, we have taken for granted the opportunity of being a nation, that seeks God’s heart and have become an adolescent majority that believe they know more than any God, have answers for every questions without the need for faith, mystery, and believe their own understanding of “Love” can be derived from a self-determined moral ascent of thought for some lowest common denominator of goodness.

My rambling point is that the world continues to settle for emptiness, grief, proof, weeping, waring, and the dismissive returning home in retreat.

The state of the News of Resurrection and Worldview are very similar, then and now. If someone tells you the Post Easter experience is different now, 2000 years after the stone was first rolled away and God’s divine work of restoring a broken creation is so modern, different, and detached… the truth is, we are extremely near to the same response.

Where is the Hope?

The home comes when Jesus speaks to those who are waiting and searching.

The 12 were not at the tomb ready to celebrate and sing, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today!”  They were at home. For those who were willing to search and listen for the voice of witnesses, angels, and the voice of Christ, find the power, truth, and life the risen Lord have given us.

  • For Mary who goes to tell others,
  • For Peter and John who run to see,
  • For Mary who remains to see and hear, Jesus speaks to her, by name,
  • Her response is identifying with Jesus as teacher.

We are the students

  • Students know they have more to learn.
  • Student have respect to know where to seek answers and direction.
  • Students listen, follow, and trust the Teacher’s instruction.

These are what we are modeled this Easter, and every day.

  • Confess we do not know it all,
  • we do not have all the answers,
  • But, We know who to trust
  • We know who to follow,
  • What know what to model,
  • We know we are to also tell, lead, and share with others,
  • We know the world needs what God has done and is doing through Jesus, the Risen Lord!

The simple task for Easter Sunday 2021 is to

  1. Affirm or reaffirm our faith in Jesus Christ, risen for us personally, and for the world, the broken sin filled self-absorbed world, and
  2. To Claim the task of being the messengers
  3. Sent and empowered by Christ.
  4. To witness what we have seen, heard,
  5. To share what we believe and trust,
  6. To live the eternal life of love and peace that has been given to us.
  7. Until every knee bow and every tongue join our praise and celebration.

Let’s get busy!!

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Mark 16:1-8 Near Sunrise Easter 2021

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.  They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid. [NRSA: MK 16:1-8]

The Garden Tomb, Jerusalem, 2014

The oldest copies of Mark’s gospel end at this point in the story of Jesus. It is important that we have read all of Mark’s gospel to fully appreciate why the stories stops with fear, instead of joy and celebration. In quick summary, in Mark’s account, Jesus repeatedly tells the disciples to not tell anyone when they experience a divine revealing of God at work.

  • Mark 1:34 And He healed many who were ill with various diseases and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.
  • Mark 1:44 and He *said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
  • Mark 3:12 And He earnestly warned them not to tell who He was.
  • Mark 5:43 And He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this, and He said that something should be given her to eat.
  • Mark 7:24 Jesus got up and went away from there to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice.
  • Mark 7:36 And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it.
  • Mark 8:26 And He sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”
  • Mark 8:30 And He warned them to tell no one about Him.
  • Mark 9:9 As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus expressly order them not to tell anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
  • Mark 9:30 From there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know about it.
  • Mark 11:33 Answering Jesus, they *said, “We do not know.” And Jesus *said to them, “Nor will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

11 times Jesus said:

  • Don’t speak,
  • say nothing,
  • do not tell,
  • no one is to know,
  • no escape,
  • do not tell anyone,
  • Do not enter,
  • tell no one,
  • do not tell anyone,  
  • he did not want anyone to know,
  • nor will I tell you.

Until the Resurrection:

Until Mark 16, Until Mary stands before him Risen from the Dead

NOW Go Tell! Go tell the Disciples. Go tell the world.

BUT

They said nothing.

The single most significant news to tell the world and once hearing it, they went home filled with terror and fear.

 And they said nothing.

Now we know from history and the fact that we have gathered yet again for as many years as we are old on the anniversary of this morning, but the question of the year is this:

  • Who have you specifically told about news of Jesus’s gift of salvation?
  • Who have told, that has not already heard, about the eternity part of our life that is not over at the point our heart stops beating, our spirit, our soul, the true person that we are will continue to live, just as Jesus is alive.
  • Who have your individually told about the news that even if we have sinned, messed up, screwed up all the plans, God so loves us that Jesus has died for those sins, and has over-come the barrier that seizes the world with fear and terror.

Death has gone out of business because of Easter and the Resurrection, for those who claim the life Christ has died to give us.

More important in 2021, is who will you tell?

  • Who will you tell today?
  • Who will you tell tomorrow,
  • who will you tell as long as you have breathe to tell?
  • This is reason we have gathered, to hear the story once again and to respond to today’s call to GO TELL,

Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere, Go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is Risen!

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Mark 11:1-11 Why Are You Stealing My Colt?

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.'” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it.

Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. [NRSA: Mark 11:1-11]

Generosity vs Gratitude

We had some car trouble. While we are blessed to have three options for transportation, two of them were in the shop. In a moment where the three of our household needed to travel in two opposing directions, our neighbor most generously offered to let us use one of theirs. My story of generous sharing is shared in culture and moment of abundance. The two of them also have three cars and did not need all three that day.

Jesus’ story is of different quality and purpose. It is not simply about the kindness of sharing in a time of need. It is about devoting and trusting Jesus in something that might prove difficult to us and others.

The fellow in town whose colt was being untied by one of the disciples could have had a rock and sling and begun to whirl stones to scare them away.

Jesus’s instruction, at first appearance, was the opposite of the 8th Commandment. Go and take the colt, and “IF” someone sees you or asks, tell them we need your ride for the Messiah. To which the person who owns the colt agreed with faithfulness, pride, curiosity, or neighborly trust.

The first lesson in the passage for us to see and hear is that God calls us to make practical preparations for God’s work. There is an implicit inclusion of “Things To Do” for the kingdom that Jesus is expecting us to be working on and about. And the first in this instance is transportation and celebration.

The entry into the city by Jesus as the Messiah would signal a parade of sorts. Just when we hear the parade is coming to town, we make our way to the sidewalk where we might get a view, little ones near the curb, in case candy or prizes are hurled at the crowd. Small ones sit atop parents’ shoulders. Police clearing traffic, waves of people form the way with flags, banners, streamers, and festive decorations.

We ought not to be too surprised that people would wave palm branches just as we might wave foam fingers, rally rags, and noisemakers to share in the festivities. For two to four hundred years of seriously awaiting the appearance of the Messiah to restore the fortunes of Zion were the hope of everyone in town.

No Limousines nor convertibles.

Jesus is making both a political and theological statement to the people by arriving as the new king on an animal of humility. Some leaders parade riding in tanks, some in bullet-proof limos, others on the back of a pickup truck, making different political statements. Jesus, in effect, arrived on a Walmart/Murry riding lawn mower, and not the Zero radius variety. Which would have raised some questions by those seeking power and approval by those who did basic labor from day today.

There was no horse, chariot, carriage, and not even a litter. (That little box with poles carried by 6, 8, or 10.)

The (1) first lesson, God has work for us to help reveal the kingdom, and Our (2) second lesson from this passage is a reminder that Jesus’s mission is not to prove that he was King, but rather what type of Kingdom God’s kingdom truly is.

God wants us to be clear about the kingdom.

Remember some of the kingdom Says:

  • Matthew 13:31 NRSA – He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field;
  • Matthew 13:33 NRSA – He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”
  • Matthew 13:44 NRSA – “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
  • Matthew 13:45 NRSA – “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls;
  • Matthew 13:47 NRSA – “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind;
  • Matthew 13:52 NRSA – And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
  • Matthew 18:4 NRSA – whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
  • Matthew 20:1 NRSA —  “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.

The Kingdom of God is not a complicated thing.

King Jesus’ Theological Platform:

The tiny mustard seed, the expanding work of yeast, hidden to be found and treasured, for all people, for old and new, humble and includes our labors for the kingdom.

The (3)  third lesson for this Palm Sunday looks beyond the festivities of praise and worship to the timing of Revelation, Truth, and Judgement.

For all the effort of the celebration, what does it look like after the parade? After the Christmas presents are opened? After the Thanksgiving table has been shared.

At the end of the pageantry is work of cleaning things up.

Who likes to do the dishes? Take down the tree? Clean the carpet, return the order of everyday and not just the holiday.

  • Jesus prepared, enjoyed, and celebrated with the disciples and the city, but his work was not to be done at the end of the day, but at its beginning.
  • His work was not to be done in darkness, even though others would do their evil work in the shadows.
  • Jesus’s intent is to reveal for all to see, as we peek ahead, we know at the moment he breaths his last breath, the skies turn dark as night, another reversal of our expectation.

The central part of the coronation and crowning of Jesus as Messiah would not be done by public opinion, and the fickle power of political change, his kingship is revealed in God’s timing, for our benefit.

Jesus looks around at the celebration and knows we will follow when the crowd is behind us when the party is raging, but Jesus needs disciples who are faithful until the judgment.

This is where Palm Sunday begins to point to the rest of the week.

  • Our spiritual journey of Lent has prepared us for this moment, or we are not. Jesus needs disciples will follow in when…
  • Faithfulness is not popular. When…
  • Truth is twisted, and when…
  • Persecution is at the door.

Palm Sunday in 2021 begs us to answer.

  1. are we waving the banner of Christ to a sinful world that is ready to rewrite what it thinks is truth?
  2. When it chooses the evil of Barabbas just to shut Jesus up?
  3. When the culture believes it is the judge of humanity and turns to threaten the intentions, faith, and witness of Christ’s faith?

Just as on the first Palm Sunday, we gather to worship and lift high the name and praise of Jesus and tomorrow.

  1. we will be tempted to go along with the crowd,
  2. to redefined what is honorable, good, and true.
  3. Avoid persecution by following the threats and demands of the crowd.

Jesus looks around and says to the disciples… We need to step back and review before the final exam.

As our Students are working hard toward the end of another school year, teachers are preparing the exams that will not only reflect how well the students have learned but also how well the teachers have taught.

Jesus retreats to give the disciples a final word. We will see in the story that Jesus shares the Passover, time in teaching, and prayer, in the wake of the full unfolding of grace and glory.

We now live knowing who the story unfolds and we join now as disciples with a similar list of To-Dos in the face of culture ready to threaten, dismiss, and attempt to de-thrown the body of Christ.  Palm Sunday is our final wake-up call to use these next six days of work, that when Christ comes, we are ready to say, I have fed, I have clothed, I have taught, I have carried, I have healed, I have blessed in your name…. and not just found another outfit for the annual Sunday tradition.

This is a sneak peek are we ready for Christ’s return?

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John 12:20-33 The Time For Grace

close up photo of wheat
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Following Jesus is Life and Death and Eternal Life

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”  Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say–‘ Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted-up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. [NRSA: John 12:20-33]

From the time Jesus turned around in Samaria and was heading back toward Jerusalem, he had tried to prepare the disciples for what was going to happen when they arrived. This passage begins as the Passover was soon to begin and the people of Israel were making journeys and pilgrimages to the Holy City from around the world. Just as Christmas is ultimately a religious holiday of Christians there are others, of different faiths and cultures, who adopt the celebrations, so there are non-Jewish persons from Greece that were in town and were asking where to find Jesus.

So think about what Jesus has accomplished at this point. He has selected and equipped disciples; He has begun teaching and preaching, as well as healing and restoring individuals and families. Jesus has drawn great crowds and performed divine miracles. He has threatened the establishment and confronted evil and sin. Jerusalem, at Passover, is the pinnacle moment.

As I side note, recall how one of Jesus’s temptations in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry tells this moment. The temptation that was atop the Temple and he was tempted to use that moment to become Israel’s earthly king, the long-awaited, political savior. And here Jesus is in Jerusalem with the pinnacle moment at hand.

The Tipping Point

While Jesus is trying to talk to his disciples about death and namely Jesus’s death, there comes word, from visiting people from Greece, who want to visit with Jesus. When Jesus hears that those who are non-Jewish believers have come seeking Jesus, it reflects how far the message and power of the Gospel had reached. When the unbelievers come asking in belief, Jesus knew the mission to be accomplished. It was bigger than Jesus as a person. It was more than the faithful efforts of the disciples; it was going to become worldwide.

This assurance was a tempting moment. Do we build a stronger base? Do we overturn the temple AND the Romans and take over the world as the leader of the World? In the Wilderness it was a theory in his mind, today it is a vibrant and attractive reality. His following words and actions reveal his spiritual choice.

What we hear in this passage is Jesus’s struggling with the options. Look I am famous. Look how far my influence has reached in such a short time. I’ve gone platinum!! Why do am I faced with temptation at the very moment all the pieces are coming together? Can’t I enjoy a few parades and perks first? (Have the cake and eat it too?) (Free Israel from slavery, make it through the wilderness, AND taste the fruit of the Promised Land?] Is God being mean, teasing us to test us?

What Type of King is Jesus?

What Type of Followers of Jesus Are We?

There is the reason we know this moment was a pinnacle moment is shown as God speaks to Jesus and to the world. Most misunderstand the words as thunder, some only comprehend the voice of an angel, but the voice of God that spoke at Jesus’s baptism, the voice that spoke at the Mountain of Transfiguration, is the Voice speaking in Jerusalem.

This is my Son, listen to him. He Will Reveal my Glory. It is time for Grace to pour out. It is time for the sacrifice of “THE Passover Lamb” for the whole world, Jew and Greek.

The heart of the lesson

Our decision to follow Jesus is not a once-in-a-lifetime event. It is the all-day, every-day, relationship of trust and faith, lived out if we have days to live and breath to breathe. Our own journey is not complete. For when we find our way to Christ, we are called to bring others to him as well.

Following Jesus’s Lead

As disciples today, we learn from Jesus that God has our hearts and our back. Nothing can stop the love of God, therefore trust the eternal source of Good, Love, Grace, Strength, Hope, Power, Peace, Truth, Wholeness, Creation, Life, and Meaning — and place everything else into perspective.

Jesus gives the powerful grain of wheat illustration, the one life we have becomes the root, the seed, the foundation for a hundred others.

So here is the challenge?

Who are the people coming to you asking about Christ? Asking about God? Asking about the Holy Spirit? Asking about the work and witness of the church? If folks aren’t asking then maybe you are not advertising. Maybe you and need the reality that other people listen to us, watch us, follow and friend us, and they are learning something about us.

If there is any question about our witness drawing others to Christ, then we know where our temptation is almost heaven, and where to seek God’s help the most.

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John 3:14-21 “No Snakes at Church”

A sign of lifesaving work

And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned, but those who do not believe are condemned already because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” [John 3.14-21: NRSA]

This passage contains the heart of every sermon in the most familiar verses of this chapter, vs. 16 and 17. We will get to them in a moment, but first, we look back to the Moses and the People of God in the Wilderness, living in peril, fear, and separated from all they had known before.

In the wilderness, they had a problem with snakes. People were getting bitten by poisonous snakes and dying left and right. It was a mini plague, a real crisis for the community. They turned to Moses, who turn to God.

Notice the response of Moses always includes turning to God.

God instructs him to place a snake upon the staff that had parted the sea and guided the people, and to live it up for all to see. The Wilderness Journey was all about teaching the People of God to look to God, trust God, and follow God.

Moses’s remedy is no different. The sign is the promise that God will take care, God will guide, God, will save. Follow God and find Life. That was the Old Testament message, and Luke is telling the same as our New Testament message.

FOLLOW GOD and FIND LIFE.

The connections between a snake in the garden with Eve and Adam, being lifted up, as an offering, a sacrifice, as an example of God’s power to save..blessed the Israelites in the Wilderness and points us to Christ who dies for us all, is also lifted up, as a sacrifice for our sin and the payment for our life with his own.

  • FOLLOW CHRIST and FIND LIFE
  • FOLLOW THE HOLY SPIRIT AND FIND GOD
  • FOLLOW THE PAYMENT and SEE WHERE IT LEADS

Much of the evil and corruption we see in the world is tied to money and power that can be seen in the transactions of payment. The great three traded resources in our time are weapons, drugs, and people. Money is laundered to transact these commodities for power around the globe. This is when human trafficking, the war on drugs, and the quest to limit nuclear weapons and still new technologies as always at work behind the scenes. Money is given for oil, that is traded for weapons that are traded for drugs, that paid for with the lives of human trafficking and/or slave labor. It is a horrible system of evil at the deepest and highest levels.

We say, thankfully none of us do anything like that!

But we want our prices low at the discount stores; the largest cost is labor. The lower the price the less has been paid for labor. It is politically convenient for some to argue that we should raise the minimum wage to bring justice. But that is not the model to support. Somewhere the work has to be done and someone is paying the full cost.

If my shirt is made of cotton, it was grown by someone, harvested at the hands of others, traded and transported, prepared into clothing, transported, made into garments, packaged and transported, sold, and transported yet again. Who deserves what percent of the product? the grower, harvester, transporter, trader, weaver, designed, sewer, packer, shipper, or the retail salespersons at the end of the line? If the minimum wage doubles, would not the cost of each step also increase, and though the wage increase so would the value of the product and process. Bottom line, when we speak about cost and payment, someone makes the risk, the sacrifice, and therefore determines the true value.

The Value of Eternal Life has been paid through the sacrifice of God’s own Son, God’s grace, God’s work! Why? Because God loves us. Because God does not want to give up on us. God is not ready to be cast us away.

John 3:16-17 Gets all the attention

But let’s look at verses 18-21:

  • “And this is the judgment,” with the proclaiming of Jesus as our means of salvation, he is also our advocate in Judgement. This is a reminder that just because we are with Jesus doesn’t mean we skip the final judgment.
  • the light has come into the world,
  • people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.
  • For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed.
  • But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.

By What will be judged? Here is the scorecard: Light or Darkness, Love or Hate, Self or God, Evil or Good’s Righteousness.

The thing about sin is that it is an all-or-nothing dilemma. We are with God or we are not, We are in the light or dark, no 50 shades of grey with Righteousness. So we step up to the plate, we already have three strikes and are headed back to the dugout. Why try if we are out before we start. We don’t like this so we..

The best players in history bat in the 400s which means the very best strikeout or get out a majority of the time. Not too different from playing for the world’s team.

World’s Baseball teams: The Dark Nights, The Evil Weasels, the Hidden Hitters, the Shagging Shamers,

My prayer is that evil may be seen for what it is. If we were to see the real evils in the world we wouldn’t be less likely to look the others way and allow evil to have a pass.

When we believe that our own salvation is connected to exposing all that is hidden, in darkness, with the light of Christ, our passion is not kill-people-with-kindness (that’s always a miss used phrase)

We share the light of Christ because God wants the light of truth and life to reveal what is broken that it might be exposed, healed, redeemed, and transformed, buy the same grace that saves us.

We have more sense than a moth. A moth is drawn the light and will continue to attack the bulb until it burns it up. Why, the month is not very bright.

Why do we continue to do what is hidden, selfish, evil, sinful —

The world looks at the church says, We don’t like Christians because they are too judgemental. And we run around trying to find away to soften, couch, and even hide the truth until are able to explain the Good News. Yet…

Honestly we usually just keep letting things slide, and people think what they want so they will at least leave us alone, and we can just co-exist in some lowest common denominator or detent we vaguely call peace. And we become those who keep silent.

The implied instruction in the famous John 3:16-17 about Jesus is the summary of Grace, and 18-21 is the reason why we who are in Christ are called to expose evil, name the truth, stand for God’s righteousness.

But the moment we do, count on the power of evil not resist. Remember from the sermon on the Mount, Blessed are those who are persecuted FOR MY sake, for the purpose of revealing and teaching God’s righteousness and goodness.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

Salvation is for those who hold fast to righteousness and speak the truth to evil, greed, pride, shame, deception, and all manifestation of sin and brokenness.

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1 Cor 1:18-25 “Who is Wise?”

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. [NRSA: 1 Corinthians 1:18-25]

Stumbling block of wisdom.

  • God’s foolishness is wiser than our wisdom.
  • God’s weakness of grace, patience, and love are our greatest gifts and blessings.

We do not like to be called fools.

  • That means we should have known better.
  • It means we might have underestimated our competition.
  • We might have known what to avoid but did not follow what we knew to be good.
  • Or we allowed our self to be misled or were taken advantage of by trusting the wrong person or not preparing for a task.
  • Sometimes, we are called a fool, by a fool, who believes they hold the only solution, tool, or idea that is correct and their name-calling is a way of discouraging or degrading us.
  • Most of the time we do not need anyone’s help in doing the opposite of what is good, right, needed, or true.
  • When we look around, we have many role models of being fools.

Part of Paul play on words is between acting in foolish ways or thinking fool ideas compared to the foolishness we think of as humor.

Together let’s start with this prayer.

Mule &  Farmer Story

The very first sermon I recall ever hearing about this comparing our wisdom with God’s foolishness, the preacher told a folk story about an old farmer whose mule was braying without ceasing all through the night. The next morning, he went out to the barn to examine the mule. As he poked, prodded, listened, and looked around the stall, he saw the mule had not eaten his dinner, his breath was terrible, and was laying down braying with the little energy the mule had. To touch the mule’s abdomen was we increate the bellows. The farmer called the vet who said, it is simple, your mule is constipated. I will be there in a half-hour! The farmer said, what will you do? The Vet said I will take a quart of mineral oil and half a cup of laxative and blow the mixture through a tube into the mule’s mouth. The farmer concocted the remedy confident that he was as smart as the vet and would be saving the fee by solving the problem himself. He told the vet, “No bother I will try that and call if it doesn’t work.” The farmer raced to connect an old milk jug, some tubing, and the mixture and fashion one end into the mule’s mouth. In his haste, he stirred up a bit of dust that caused the mule to take a giant sneeze, and just as the farm place the other end of the tube in his own mouth the mule blows first. Under the greater pressure, the farmer ingested a significant amount of the mule’s dose of the vet’s remedy. The farmer immediately regrated calling off the vet, who had had to call from the bed where he lay braying and moaning in the house.  Moral: Sometimes when we think we know best; the mules blow first.

That is a long way to go to get a dose of foolishness, but we often take God’s gifts, plans, and breath into our own minds and hands and it backfires on us as well.

Humor and funny stories can be tools to tell the truth.

Being humorous is not Paul’s main point. Recognizing those who say they know better than God, despite their authority, popularity, and public approval, are in all times, fools to be avoided instead of emulated.

  • The fools who believe the world’s news is more important than God’s news have already made a grave mistake before the first word is spoken.
  • The fools who believe they have found the meaning of life without the need for God nor the flaws of religion place a greater wall of ignorance than millennia of ‘learned’ teaching.
  • The fools say I know because they say they can replicate something in nature but they do so using elements already found in nature, and ideas that I have already been organized in God’s wisdom.
  • The fool says I have learned, invested, given, tried, worked, served enough – it is someone else turn. God is never through with us and the moments we give up we forfeit what God will be doing through us next.
  • The fool says the problem is too hard, I have failed in the past, We have tried before. We don’t have time, money, or people. “We can’t” and yet this is the confession that fools need to hear.

What can I do that is good, loving, and true, that is not done with God’s help, guidance, and blessing?

Nothing!

Who holds the power?

We have much learned in the academic world that invests trillions of dollars. We have political programs that reach through multiple generations of people. Our financial institutions span the globe with instantaneous transfers of wealth. Technology promises the rapid progress of amassing and discerning information at faster capacities than our minds can comprehend. But each of these has fundamental flaws that we choose to overlook in our society of progress. Academics can become bias. Politicians can be corrupted, we cannot eat consume legal tenders when we hunger, and where is technology when the power goes out? We need more than goals, ideas, control, and tools. We need the very reason to use all of these together, for good, in relationship to their design.

Alton Brown, Food Network Star, was the first person to that recall naming kitchen gadgets that take up room in the drawer or on the counter and can only do one job. He tries his best to avoid, “Unitaskers” preferring to invest in something that serves a variety of needs and not just one.

There are three exceptions in the kitchen.

  • A thermometer for the oven
  • A fire extinguisher
  • A cherry pitter

These three save your teeth, keep your oven honest, and your home safe. They don’t need to do anything else.

But a salad spinner might be nice for cleaning lettuce, but you can also just shake it. A knife can peal a potato, slice meat, and pry open things.

What does multi-tasking and uni-tasking have to do with the Apostle Paul and the Christian faith?

  As people with free will we are created with the freedom to be multi-taskers, but we are also created with a hope to become unitaskers.

When we are created with the ability to choose to love, trust, forgive, heal, bless, inspire, teach, share, build, feed, clothe, and befriend God and others because we share God’s love for life and relationship, then even though we are busing with many things in different times, we ultimately have one design that fits our nature.

The fool is using all the gifts, blessings, people, resources, talents, knowledge, and opportunity to serve themselves or those who believe God is not what makes the universe good, meaningful and loving, and we trade the ultimate joy for some little joy that lasts a moment compare an eternity of life in God.

Mirco Choices

I’ve been participating in a healthy choice lifestyle system that is not just a diet, with bars, shakes, weigh-ins, and coaching. The whole system is an experiment in learning how the little stuff adds up to the total. How one donut, a peanut butter cup, or a soft drink seem insignificant on their own, and in the moment, but by scales, sphygmomanometer, and glucose strips all tell me the little things have been adding up in a detrimental way. (Blood pressure cuff thingy is a sphygmomanometer.) The simple truth in changing my life and lifestyle is giving value and significance to individual small choices, ideas, and actions.

How do we shape our spiritual self? How do we find God? Where do we start to start fresh?

The how and why don’t actually matter as much as the starting to look at our lives the way God looks at

  • our life,
  • our family,
  • our body,
  • our value, and
  • our purpose.

God’s story is told through the individual stories and events of people throughout time. That is what we find in the Old and New Testament. The average person in our community sees scripture as a book of judgmental rules, of dos and don’ts, that we believe we are the professional keepers of the truth. But this is not the real truth offered to us in scripture.

  • God reveals God’s image and nature through us.
  • God reveals God’s word and ideas in scripture.
  • God reveals God’s presence in the creation, the wind, and the fellowship of God’s faithful.

So here we are, a third of the journey toward Easter is passing us by and where are we going?

  1. Who are we following in the day-to-day small stuff?
  2. Where are we headed with all that we carry in our bundle of responsibilities?
  3. How are we going find the heart of Christ in the face of fools telling us they know better than God than the church than us as the Body of Christ?

Let’s make one wise choice starting today, right now.

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Romans 4:13-25 “Keeping Promises”

For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation. For this reason, it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore, his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification. [NRSA: Romans 4:13-25]

God’s covenant with Abraham and the family of God to follow, was the God would multiply the family’s numbers to be a numerous as the stars.

With “B”illion stars in the Milky Way, and 1022 to 1024 in the viewable universe would be billions of billions [100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000] of stars. God works with exceptionally large numbers. God’s perspective is greater than our lifetime and even greater than our time on earth. God is about the business of making and keeping promises.

The fulfillment of a promise is not designed to be fulfilled at our demand, and yet, God desires to be present with us through the Holy Spirit, as close as the breath in our lungs and the wind in our face.

A promise is experiment in faith. God is not a contractual god who operates on fairness,

  • God’s core-denominator is love.
  • God so loves the world that God is revealed in the context of the human family, as our brother.
  • The relation of Jesus is our brother, offering equal access to the father as a joint heir,
  • reveals God does not show up to boss us around.
  • God shows up with us, to show us how to love, how to love requires sacrifice, love is a promise, tested in a relationship.

Abraham receives from God, a promise that will be fulfilled beyond Abraham’s lifetime. Does that mean that God has not kept God’s promise? No, it means that God is concerned about us individually and collectively, in God’s perspective.

Paul is sharing this lesson about promises to people he would meet to weave together the promise of through Abraham and the promises revealed in Jesus and promise that extends to the church, which all three are the same promise of God.

The old hymn, standing on the promises of Christ my

Standing On The Promises by Russell Kelso Carter

Standing on the promises of Christ my king, through eternal ages let his praises ring; Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing, standing on the promises of God. Refrain: Standing, standing, standing on the promises of God my Savior; standing, standing, I’m standing on the promises of God. 2 Standing on the promises that cannot fail, when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, by the living Word of God I shall prevail, standing on the promises of God. [Refrain] 3 Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord, bound to him eternally by love’s strong cord, overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword, standing on the promises of God. [Refrain] 4 Standing on the promises I cannot fall, listening every moment to the Spirit’s call, resting in my Savior as my all in all, standing on the promises of God. [Refrain]

Russell Kelso Carter (1849-1928) https://healingandrevival.com/BioRKCarter.htm

Russell grew up in the church and moved from his parent’s church when he was inspired by a Methodist youth camp, and from this point, he became focused on Divine Healing. As a young adult began writing hymns including his most famous, “Standing on the Promises” shortly after he had two bad health events that were not cured through prayer. Like Job’s friends, they told him he must have some unforgiven sin or shortcoming. He moved to the west coast, divorce his wife who was declared insane, and became a ‘quack’ healer, and basically renounces his faith. Some years later he remarried, and his second wife encouraged him to write about his struggle. In the process, he was diagnosed with Tuberculosis and was given a revolutionary new medicine that cured him in months in what was expected to a death sentence. In his reflections of God’s work in his own life, he realized that God was to be trusted in “prayer AND medicine”, saying both are necessary and God-filled healing.

Carter’s story is a witness to the struggle of having faith that God is willing to work through all things to redeem God’s people. His faith was restored and lived for many years as a trained physician and writer.

“Standing on the Promises” was composed in 1886 while Carter taught at the military academy. He was a member of the first graduating class in 1867 and had a powerful affection for the school. Author Phil Kerr makes a correlation between the music and the military academy in his book, Music in Evangelism, saying that Carter’s military experience was reflected in the martial musical style of the hymn.

Promise and Fulfillment: Believing the Promises of God, Victor Knowles, of Pepperdine University, writes:  

https://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1769&context=leaven#:~:text=reading%20of%20the%20Bible%2C,made%20by%20God%20to%20humankind).

“Herbert Lockyer, in his volume All the Promises of the Bible,’ tells the story of Everett R. Storms, a schoolteacher in Canada, who made a detailed study of promises. According to Time,’ Storms, of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, reckoned the figure of 30,000 to be too high (since it is roughly the number of verses making up the Bible31,173). During his twenty-seventh reading of the Bible, a task which took him a year and a half, Storms came up with a grand total of 8,810 promises (7,487 of them being promises made by God to humankind).

Of the 31,173 verses in the Bible, 7,487 about promises God makes to humanity. The 24%, one quarter of the bible is about promises.

The Dad who would not give up.

 (1989), an 8.2 earthquake almost flattened Armenia, killing over 30,000 people in less than four minutes. During chaos and destruction, a father rushed to his son’s school, whom he had promised to pick up from school. But instead of a school, he found a heap of rubble. He ran to the back corner of the building where his son’s classroom used to be and began to dig.

As he began to dig, well-meaning parents tried to pull him out of the rubble saying: “It’s too late!” “They’re dead!” “You can’t help!” “Go home!” “There’s nothing you can do!” The fire chief tried to pull him off the rubble by saying, “Fires and explosions are happening everywhere. You’re in danger. Go home!” Finally, the police came and said, “You’re angry, distraught, but it’s over. Go home.” But this father had made a promise, and he was going to keep it!

This father had in his heart that he would search for his son no matter how he found his son, He kept digging for 8, 12, 24, 36 hours. Then, in the 38th hour, he pulled back a boulder and heard his sons’ voice crying for help. Immediately, he screamed, “ARMAND!” Back came the words, “Dad!? I told them! I told the other kids that if you were still alive, you’d save me.

This is the love of a father who rolls away the stone, to save us.

So what is it that God has promised each of us?

  • God promises to give us life, eternal life, to be nurtured, blessed, and lived, now and forever.
  • God promises to prepare a place for us in heaven.
  • God promises to love us even though we are not worthy, because of our sin, doubts, fears, failures.
  • God promises to guide us through the Holy Spirit. He will not forsake us.
  • God promises to present in us, as Christ’s body for the world to experience.
  • God promises to forgive us if we will trust his way for our lives.
  • God promises to return to fulfill our lives IN God’s purposes.
  • And there are others that are individual and personal to each of our lives…

So why do we question? Doubt? Fear? Sin?

We are surrounded by those who have based every part of their lives on themselves, on the world, on society, on wealth, earthly power, all that is temporary and founded in all that is not God’s will, not in relationship to God.

This spiritual journey is our wake-up call to review where we place our trust? Whose promises are we seeking to fulfill?

So, understand and experience God’s promises being kept, requires us to seek God’s perspective. The heart of the Abraham experiment, that Paul is highlighting, reveals God is willing to trust when we do not have the perspective to trust. God is, therefore, as the author of love, able to extend love, trust, grace, to those who “have faith” in God’s time, love, and perspective.

We are living in a season of human history, and a culture that uses faith, trust, and love to serve social and political ends. This is not loving, this is not trustworthy; this is not the truth, and it is not God’s perspective.

Let us step back and look at what a promise from God is:

  • God is promising Abraham to trust God to provide what Abram cannot fulfill.
  • God is promising what Abram cannot prove.
  • God is promising What Abram cannot fully explain, and yet.
  • Abraham knows ‘by faith’ God is able, based on who God is.

The modern views of God as a made-up creation of a human’s need for meaning and a way to explain what has not yet been otherwise explained. The implied nature of that God is that we can shape God to answer anything or nothing. In that vacuum, others will say they have the greater promise of freedom FROM God, freedom to be our FULL SELF, freedom to be SELF DETERMINED. Each of these goes against the very nature of our being and the nature of God’s vision for us.

God, having created us in love, already knows how we struggle, fear, fail, as well as explore, expand, and experience our current reality.

  • Abraham has seen God of the universe desire a personal relationship and extends a covenant relationship between them.
  • A Covenant is a promise from God, that God promises to keep even when we do not.

Covenant: A God Promise.

A Covenant is a bad business model. Businesses, power, finance, and control operate on contracts, fairness, and a twisting of what is good, and therefore, Godly.

The Covenant with Abram is not only to become numerous people but to inherit the earth. God is entrusting the future of the earth into the hands of those who have faith, but that also means if the faithful become unfaithful, God is willing to risk the sacrifice. This is the proof of love, this is the meaning of the crucifixion, this is the hope of the Resurrection, this is the Good News of a God that operates on love and faith.

Abraham meets God one-on-one and is stepping out as one person, standing face-to-face with God and offers his faith. God is not looking for contacts satisfied, God is looking for those who will trust God’s plan and perspective.

So for us, at this point in the journey: We are ourselves and one another,

  • who do I trust with my life? My past, my present, and future?  
  • Who can save me?
  • Who loves me?
  • Who has claimed me?
  • Who will forgive me? God.
  • This is the story we retell, sing, shout, teach, and give witness to each other to the world.
  • So let us not be quiet until God has fulfilled God’s purposes in our lives.

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Day 7 Time in the Mountains

 

sunset sky over mountainous valley covered with lush vegetation
Photo by Vanessa Garcia on Pexels.com

Read: Exodus 24 (NRSV) 

My friends in the advertising world plan everything with Monday as the first day of every week. Many other businesses start the work week on Monday. There is an unspoken message at the starting point. It is a small decision that shapes our perspective for each week. In making plans we say, “I will have that ready at the first of the week.” Do we mean, Sunday, Monday, or sometimes before a week from now? We are then justified by saying, “I didn’t promise to have it Sunday, you said first of the week would be fine.” And we try to squeak by our words. 

More than calendar details, the Sabbath, literally Saturday, is a day of resting from our labors and relying on God’s labors. Sunday is our day of worship and celebration of the resurrection of Christ. Our modern weekend was first used in 18 79. The two-day break from the workweek was a combination of recognizing religious traditions and intended to forgive workers a rest. In 2021 we live in a twenty-four-hour, seven-day a week, and digitally available at all times. Finding Sabbath Rest is as difficult even when have legal days off; we just do not choose to rest. Keep in mind that the commandment is to “keep the Sabbath” which is resting from ‘our’ labor and not a request to do nothing or just sleep. 

We are called to be resting in the arms and heart of God. When we sing, study, serve, forgive, and celebrate the God-with-us in the Spirit we are usually more active; it is not a day for sleeping. It is a day for God.  Moses had many troubles and had many reasons not to go up to the mountaintop away from people’s demands. He travels up the mountain to be with God and not just away from his responsibilities in the valley.

Like Moses, if we do not spent time with God and time apart from the rest of our responsibilities we would not find the strength to lead the lives we are called to lead. 

Action Plan: Take the calendar you use and schedule the time you will give to God in the weeks ahead. 

Prayer: Give me the strength to entrust others with my work for a time, that I might give myself to you most fully.  Amen.

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