Monday, November 24, 2014

Perfect Peace

The world has it backwards!  Perfect peace does not come as a result of having more money, more property, more things to fill our attic, more life insurance, more locks on the door, more . . . 

God’s perfect peace is different!  It comes as a gift; 
an out of the ordinary gift that thrives despite our circumstances.  

Jesus understands what it feels like to be under pressure; of being on the verge of having his peace disrupted.  While he was on earth, he faced stress around every corner. Crowds gathered wherever he traveled. They reached out to touch him. They clung to his every word. Leader's doubted him. His disciples smothered him. Jesus knew the days following his arrest and crucifixion would be unlike anything his followers had ever experienced. They would be bombarded with stress, panic, disbelief, doubt, and anxiety like never before.  

God's peace cannot be duplicated.  Jesus knew this.  He also knew peace was the one thing that would stabilize the hearts and minds of his follower's once he was gone.  At times, our world can be very chaotic.  However, nothing we face is beyond God's reach of peace.  No problem is too great for him to solve. No pressure is too much for him to handle.    

God’s perfect peace is different!  It comes as an unexpected reward; 
an all encompassing gift that is independent of our circumstances. 
Isaiah 26:3
"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, 
whose thoughts are fixed on you." 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Become Like Little Children

Matthew 18:3

Unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” 
–Jesus Christ

From the florescent glow of the voluminous lights overhead, I let my child-like enthusiasm lead.  I let my hope escape.  I pursue it.  Winded, I catch up with it.  It moves again, it disappears over a black ledge and moves yet again.  It plunges into a chaos of tan paper and eternal plastic.  My emotions fly high. I clutch hold of it, I securely comfort it with two hands, I multiply it with numerous calculations, and, at last, I triumph!  And out the magical sliding door I go after going through the check-out line at Walmart.

I wonder how much more exciting life would be if we could learn to replace the mundane moments with child-like enthusiasm?  I wonder how much more peaceful the world would be if we could look at each other with toddler-like eyes?


Friday, November 21, 2014

Abraham Lincoln and the End of Time

In a letter to Governor Andrew Curtin of Pennsylvania, dated April 8, 1861, the President had this to say, the entire letter reads:  “I think the necessity of being ready increases. Look into it.” Sincerely, Abraham Lincoln.

In Matthew’s Gospel the ‘necessity of being ready’ means living the kind of life God would want you to live–now.  Live like Christ–starting today.  Many of us can do this for a short while, but when the kingdom is delayed problems arise.  Many of us can be a peacemaker for a day, but when peace is delayed the stress of life becomes too much.  Many of us can be merciful for an evening, but being merciful for a lifetime requires personal preparation.

“Be ready. Be prepared,” Jesus said, “You do not know the day or the hour of my return.” (see Matthew 25:1-13)  

When Jesus ascended into heaven, two angels appeared to the frightened disciples and assured them that their Lord would come back to them in the same way he had gone (Acts 1:10-11) …and Christians have been awaiting that day for over two thousand years now.  Before his crucifixion Jesus revealed to his disciples some details about the final days just prior to his return.  For some people this may be hard to believe, but the fact is most of Jesus’ instructions focused not on “the signs” we should be looking for in the sky, but on how God wants followers of Christ to live.

Jesus was very clear about one fact regarding his return—the date and the time is not important.  What matters is the way in which we live our lives while we wait for his return. Be ready. Be prepared. “No one knows when that day or hour will come, not the angels in heaven, not even the Son. Only God knows” (Mark 13:32).

photo taken near the back door of the church parsonage

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Quotes to Ponder

Quotes to Ponder

All the beautiful sentiments in the world
weigh less than a single lovely action.
—James Russell Lowell, 19th century

Not everything that can be counted counts,
and not everything that counts can be counted.
—Albert Einstein, 20th century

Where there are no good works, there is no faith.
If works and love do not blossom forth, 
it is not genuine faith,
the gospel has not gained a foothold, 
and Christ is not yet rightly known.
—Martin Luther, 16th century

Lay hold of something that will help you,
and then use it to help somebody else.
—Booker T. Washington, 20th century

If you believe what you like in the Gospels, 
and reject what you don't like,
it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.
—Augustine of Hippo, 5th century

Photo by: Katelyn Royle

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

John's Vision

In John’s vision of the future we see the sacrificial Lamb leading his followers as their Good Shepherd who “lays down his life for his sheep.” (see Revelation 7: 9-17)
We who are his sheep, John in saying to us - you have strength for today, search for it and you will find it. We who are his sheep, John is saying, you have a bright hope for tomorrow because the Lamb will never stop leading you beside springs of living water. God will never stop wiping away those tears from your eyes.  And when the tribulation is finally over we will gather in everlasting praise of the One who made our robes white by washing them in the blood of the Lamb. (see comments on "prepare")

We will stand before the throne of the Almighty waving palm branches as a way of saying that our present blessedness; that our ability to appear in the presence of God have been won for us by the blood of Christ. 
When the bridegroom cometh will your robe be white? Will your soul be ready for the mansions bright? Lay aside those garments that are stained with sin (as the old time hymn goes) and be washed, be washed in the blood of the Lamb, in the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb.    

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Greatest

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment?” 
(see Matthew 22:34-40)

Jesus’ answer essentially involves one main thing – being in relationship with God (and others).  As one writer said – “To be in a close relationship with God means a dedication of the entire person to God’s will and God’s way, placing God first in the mind and the heart."

To love others as ourselves means that we should treat others with the same grace and respect God gave to them and gives to each us.  As God loved his people his people should love each other.

            It was love that built the mountains,
                        It was love that made the sea―
            It was love that put God’s beauty;
                        In the world, for every human to see.
            It was love that gave us friendships;
                        It was love that gave us peace;
            It was love that planted the greatest commandment
                        Wherever Christian hearts are found―
            Oh, it’s love, love, LOVE, my friends,
                        That makes the world go ‘round.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Law of Love

"All the Law and the Prophets 
hang on these two commandments." 

Christians are not entirely free from the restraints of “The Law.”  In fact, they are under the most demanding of all laws, "The Law of Love." 

When Jesus quotes the greatest commandment in the Law of Moses, (read: Matthew 22:34-40) He combines two separate commands (Deuteronomy 6:5 & Leviticus 19:18).  Love is the greatest commandment, and its elements are twofold: love of God (first) and love of neighbor (second).  When we love God first, the love of others becomes a natural extension. 

The question was a popular one.  Jesus’ answer is a challenging one.  To be a true disciple is to love God with everything we have, and to love the people of the world whom God made in his own image with God's kind of love.  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.