Thursday, September 29, 2016
As I was journaling this Sunday's sermon and went back to hear the end portion again, I was taken by the summary of the very last subject on the outline:
2 Cor 2:4 - For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.
How often do we actually declare our love for other people? Or do we assume that they know that we love them and avoid telling them directly that we do? This is an age old problem that runs in families, and cultures down through time.
I am tempted to assume that in the Pharisaical culture that Paul was raised in, telling of love was a hard thing to do. Whether or not this is true, what is true is that when Paul met Christ, Christ filled him with love that ever overflowed from him to the people he was teaching.
In this case, the people had forgotten his love for them and became wrapped up in gossip about him; very negative and hurtful to him and harmful to them. As he is writing this letter he has just been through what he describes as a “life and death” situation which held him in some despair and now he is hearing about the gossip and harm that is a part of the church at this point. His heart is broken and the words he writes come from deep inside him. He must make corrections in their thinking and it weighs heavily on him to have to do that.
But he moves forward and writes an urgent letter to them from his heart; his Holy Spirit, love-filled heart! The overflow of the love that God has for Him is loudly stated in verse 2:4: I love you! I did love you, I do love you , and I will always love you; because God, Himself, gave me this love for you!
Wow. How often do we feel like that, let alone say that to the people we love?
We do not have the capacity to love a deep and abiding love without God's love in us. Love, without God's love, is always selfish. It happens when someone else makes an effort to love us and that makes us feel good. We respond to our own needs and not the needs of others. What can this love relationship do for ME; rather than how can this relationship help me do things to show love for that person.
May we grow in the ability to let God flow His great love out of us and onto others; coworkers, friends, extended family and especially to our children and our spouses. May we be quick to say “I love you,” or at least “Love ya” (and maybe a hug) to those God has given us to love.
I think that right now would be a good time for me to write down the names of as many extended relatives as I can think of and ask myself if I love them at all, let alone God's way. Will you join me?
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Colossians 3:14 - And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
12 - Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
When we were saved we became a part of the Body of Christ and were given the Holy Spirit to guide us, comfort us and give us the desire and the strength to be different—different from who we were and different from who non-Christians are. In many places in Scripture, we are told to be different; to cloth ourselves in various ways that protect us and help us shine in a world of darkness.
But He does not expect us to do this change alone. He gives us others , as brothers and sisters and members of the same body to reach out and achieve this change in ourselves and to help the others to also reach out in change.
Clothe yourselves with:
compassion—recognizing need and responding to it
kindness—keeping anger out of the situation
humility—taking blame wherever necessary
gentleness—speaking and acting with thoughtfulness
patience—repeating these things as often as necessary
13 - Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Most of our the simple hurts we experience in life are unintended: slights that may not have been meant as heard; injuries to our hearts or pride that may not even have been intended to hurt us, but were chosen as a hurt; some are actually intended, but may not be worth the time and effort to respond with being hurt. Checking these things off as inconsequential should be our chosen reaction. Getting angry and holding a grudge is not good for any body; yours or ours (the Body of Christ.)
This makes me think of the old adage about “If your head hurts, slam a hammer onto your finger and you will forget about your head hurting.” A pretty ridiculous thing to do, but probably true enough. Not giving others room to irritate us without creating a chasm in the body is the proper thing to do. Keeping the body healthy with forgiveness keeps the body working for Christ in the best way.
14 - And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself. This summation of God's commandments for us is the key to being different; God is Love; we love because He first loved us.
He also told us that others would know us by our love for one another:
Colossians 1:7... From the very first day you heard and recognized the truth of what God is doing, you’ve been hungry for more. It’s as vigorous in you now as when you learned it from our friend and close associate Epaphras. He is one reliable worker for Christ! I could always depend on him. He’s the one who told us how thoroughly love had been worked into your lives by the Spirit.
I Corinthians13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
15 - Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Peace develops in our lives as we turn away from fear and grumbling and turn more and more to Praise and Thanksgiving:
16 - Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
One of my favorite preoccupations is to watch the sky. A clear sky is nice, but one with at least a few clouds is even better; the sky becomes a drawing board for God with wonderful patterns and shapes scattered about. Last night was an excellent example as an array of “mountainous” billowy cumulus clouds appeared in the sky reflecting the last lights of the day on bright white surfaces which appeared to be mountains in the distance. There are no mountains north of me, but it is always fun to look up and see the mountain-like clouds shining in God's Glory.
Another special time for me is catching bird pictures and videos from a site online Bird) that allows me to be a “bird watcher” from my home. It is wonderful to see the variety and colorfulness of birds around the world. There is no end to the numbers and colors and mating rituals! God's creatures are extremely beautiful (with the exception of spiders) and something to be enjoyed—from a distance—and to Praise the Lord about mountains, lakes, rivers, oceans, forests, meadows and even farmlands which are all beautiful to behold and rich and colorful enough to send us praising the Lord, the Creator of it all, even in it's sin tarnished state.
17 - And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
And, thus we are instructed to pray IN Jesus Name... “In Jesus name, and for His sake, Amen.” The world seems to despise that phrase more than even the call to Allah for destruction of all who are not themselves. But that is God's fight. Ours is to tame ourselves with praises to Almighty God, through Bible truths and wonder. Ours is to love, even as God Almighty has loved us. His love endures forever; and it is never failing! Praise Him, Praise Him, Praise Him!
May we love one another enough to be noticed!
Friday, September 2, 2016
Here, Jesus was answering the Priests inquiry as to why He let His followers gather grain to eat on the Sabbath. He quite simply declared that the Sabbath was not a chain, but a blessing for all. It gave people the right to rest, for at least one day every week.
The people He included in this statement where not just the upper crust, but it did include the upper crust. And it went all the way down to the lowliest of slaves. God's commandment to keep the Sabbath was to insure that all people and animals would get a day of rest each week. For the Israelites the day was set—Saturday, the seventh day.
As the faith grew around the world and as Christ came and lived and died and rose again for us, believers began to celebrate Sunday, the first day of the week, as a day of rest in honor of His resurrection. There is a lot of debate a this, but the thing that really matters is that we take a day of rest every week.
There was a time in this country when businesses were closed and farmers did only the absolute necessities to care for their animals and then they also rested.
Now, of course, nearly all service businesses are open seven days a week, but most give their workers at least one day a week off, and most have been forced to give two days a week off; plus Holidays, and these holidays have been adjusted to be on Monday, creating a three day weekend almost every month.
All of that is to say, that we have been given more time off than seems right. But it does not stop there; especially if you count sick days, personal days, and vacation days. WOW. Talk about overkill!!
And yet, there are workers who do not get all of these privileged days off: It is those who work hard so that they can work even more; and they are primarily those who wish to move up the ladder, higher and higher. It also includes those who work for themselves and want to push themselves into what is considered successful in our society. And it includes those who are working for commissions, and pay taxes as an individual contractor. There are millions of these in this country. It also includes those who work two jobs that overlap and keep them working 7 days a week.
This is a sickness that invades our society so badly that homes are wrecked, stresses rise, and bodies fail; all because people are not taking a day of rest—at least one day of rest—each week.
We call this the “rat race” trying to be cute about it ; but mice can die of “body failure,” too, if they get too stressed out.
God gave us a clue and Jesus reiterated that clue: TAKE A DAY OF REST FROM YOUR WORK EVERY WEEK. Spend time with your family or friends and relax. Shut off your work computer; shut down your work phone; take time to breathe. The world will not end because you do that; but you might end because you did not.