Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Persevere Under Trial

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
9The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business. (James 1:2-12)

12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Our ideas of what the bible means by trials and when the bible actually means by trials can be pretty different. The really big things like serious illness, death or a break-up of a family life are quick to spring to mind, but James doesn’t limit trials to this sort of giant event. He includes in his idea of testing our everyday issues and anything that might present us with a choice of whether to follow God or not, a temptation that we may face is equally a test of our faith according to James as something we might consider as a way bigger deal.
The people who received James letter were Christians who had come from a Jewish context. Because they had turned away from Judaism, their social and economic ties with Jewish people had been cut, also it is thought that, as James tells us that they are “scattered among the nations” that they have fled Jerusalem because of persecution of the early church there. This posed all sorts of big scale problems for them; poverty, persecution, exploitation at work, legal action taken against them. But also their faith was being put to the test by more in built things, for example; pride, favoritism, fighting and inaction.
At times it is really easy to react negatively to these tests, and it makes sense that no-one wants to have to go through the things that sometimes face us in life. It is easy to get sucked into complaining and self-pity, or trying to find our own solutions to our problems or even stopping atjust finding something to take our minds off things. It is also easy to blame God for the difficult circumstance we’re in, and to get angry at him. Even if we don’t get angry at him, it is easy to think he doesn’t have things under control and to panic and try and fix things
This isn’t just easy, James tells us it is actually, factually deadly. The death James is talking about could be the break-up of a relationship or the break down of a friendship, but if we turn our backs on God James issues a blunt warning that the results won’t be pretty.
Perseverance James says we should have an attitude of patience, of perseverance and ultimately of joy. It sounds pretty crazy that we should be joyful in the middle of what feels like a catastrophe, but what James says shouldn’t be too radical. The advice James gives the people who he is writing to is to mourn their sin and forget about it, to be patient throughout their suffering and to look past the actual circumstance and trust God that he use it to bring them closer to maturity and completeness. Obviously, in the heat of the moment that is easier said than done, and it is much more natural not to react in this way, that’s why it is vital for us to pray for wisdom.
Having a Godly attitude towards suffering and testing circumstances will produce in us maturity and completeness that we might not lack anything, and also there is the promise of the crown of life to those who persevere under trial. These results can seem like they are all very much future
rewards that we won’t see this side of Heaven, but we will see impact in our lives now as we focus on a loving God.
James isn’t saying that hard times will be automatically easy for Christians, and I’m sure his readers knew that all too well, but he is saying we should be joyful know that he have a God we can trust who is able to use difficulty to produce good in his children.

Peace and love,


"Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We must run the "good race".

I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation,
and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have competed well; I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.
From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me,
which the Lord, the just judge,
will award to me on that day, and not only to me,
but to all who have longed for his appearance.

The Lord stood by me and gave me strength,
so that through me the proclamation might be completed
and all the Gentiles might hear it.
And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat
and will bring me safe to his heavenly Kingdom.
To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.
(2 Timothy 4:6-8,17-18)

Paul was writing to Timothy to help him to stay on the right track. He wasn't going to be around much longer and needed to inspire his student to continue to persevere in his faith and his ministry. Paul's head was not on the executioner’s block yet, but his heart was there. He was ready to make the ultimate sacrifice. He considers himself as on the eve of death, and looks upon his blood as the libation which was poured on the sacrificial offering. He must have already had the sentence of death already passed upon him.
Paul had fulfilled his ministry and was ready to receive his reward, and he wanted Timothy to be able to do the same. Preaching the gospel is one of the most rewarding things a person can do, if they are sincerely
devoted to doing this. Paul wanted Timothy to be as inspired by the word of God as he was. He wanted Timothy to see that the reward for staying faithful and "finishing the race" was far greater than any earthly reward.
So it should be for us. We are not going to be executed for our faith (hopefully) or belief in the word of Jesus, however, our life on this world may not be as wonderful as the life of those who choose to ignore their need for God. To talk about God can sometimes make one the object of ridicule. In these days, people don't want to hear about sacrifice and forgiveness. They want to live for the moment, enjoy life's pleasures and not worry about sacrifice, or forgiveness, or compassion, or love.
Paul ran the good race which means he stayed true to his ministry to preach the word of God to everyone he could find to listen.
As Christians, we too, must run our own good race. We must stay faithful to the word of God and the example of Jesus. We must preach Jesus, in any way we are able, by word or example. Just as Paul encouraged Timothy, he also encourages us. Our reward for doing so will be beyond our imagination. Jesus has promised us that.

Peace and love,


"Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Harmony begins in the heart, not in the law.

20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
21"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.
23"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
25"Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny. (Matthew 5:20-26)

What does it really mean to be righteous? Is righteousness merely a legal reality? Is it all about either following or not following certain rules? That is not what Jesus is telling his listeners. Jesus is trying to make the point that true righteousness goes far deeper than just following certain rules.
The problem with the legal view is that it tempts one to think of their relationship with God as if it were a contract. You do your part of the bargain and God will do his part. It tempts you to think of your life only in terms of the minimum you need to do to keep on the right side of God, or even to see what you can get away with and still not be violating the contract, so that God is obligated to keep his part. Jesus is trying to tell his listeners that true righteousness goes far beyond the legal understanding of the law. Jesus is trying to get his listeners to understand the "heart" of the law.
Jesus reminds his listeners that it is wrong to commit murder. However, Jesus is telling them the deeper meaning of this commandment. God's intention was not just that people not actually murder each other. You have not necessarily fulfilled this commandment when you have managed to not physically kill another person. Jesus goes further in his instruction to his listeners. He tells them that to be angry with another person, to demean them by insults, in other words, to kill the heart of a person, is no different in the eyes of God than if one were to kill the body.
Jesus is asking them to consider the truth that the seeds of murder begin far earlier than the final act. Doesn't murder begin, Jesus is asking, way back in the angry word or the thoughtless insult? Isn't there a real death that occurs whenever we speak unkindly to others? There is discord, dissolution and pain in the relationship that wasn¹t there before and that we cannot take away. It has been brought into reality by our speaking. The words can be worked around and apologized for, but they cannot be unsaid. Damage to the relationship has been done. Killing the relationship is just as bad as killing the body.
Jesus is trying to teach his listeners the true meaning of God's commandment. Righteousness is not about just following the bare minimum of the law. The meaning of true righteousness is about maintaining right relationships. Right relationships do not start with the law, they start with the heart and with the soul.
This puts a whole new understanding to this commandment. When you hear the phrase "words can kill", it reminds us that what we say to one another is just as important as what we do to one another. To understand this message of Jesus, we have to learn to speak carefully. We must think before we speak words to one another that bring about death. It also forces us to understand the importance that God puts on relationships. We are to live in peace with one another. God's peace not just in the physical sense, but peace in the spiritual sense. Harmony begins in the heart, not in the law.

Peace and love,


"Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

We should freely give our love to God.

17"If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"
(Galatians 2:17-21)

This was always confusing to me. I always believed that in order to prove that you are a true follower of Jesus, you must follow the law. It never occurred to me that Paul was talking about the difference between doing things because of a desire to follow the rules, and doing things in order to show your love for God. The two thought processes are absolutely different.

Often, we don't speed because of a fear of getting caught and paying a fine. However, the motive for not speeding should be caring for the safety of all those on the road. The first way of thinking is following the law because of a proposed consequence for not following the law. The second way of thinking is following the law because of a concern for others. One is considered "law-works" and the second is considered "heart-works".

Paul in this passage is talking about the fact that Jesus already paid the price for our sins, so we should not be so worried about the "law-works". We will not spend eternity with God because of anything we have done or because of anything we might do. We have already received that gift from our loving God. If we follow the rules, it should be because of our desire to show love and gratitude for the gift we have been given by God in Jesus. We should do things out of love, because we want to, not because we fear we will loose something of have to pay something if we don't.

If you love, there are many things that you will do for your beloved, far above and beyond what is required. If you love, you will do most anything to show your love for your beloved. God has shown us love in giving us the ultimate gift of Jesus. There is no greater gift that God could have given us.

God wants us to show our love in the same way. We offer ourselves as the greatest gift we can give to God. We offer our love, our life, and all that we do, because of our great love for God. Just as Jesus gave of himself by his own free will, we give God the gift of ourselves of our free will. We must do this out of love, not because we are afraid of the consequences.

Peace and love,


"Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Our God is a God of Comfort

The God of All Comfort
3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
8We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

Sorrow is universal. It is an emotion common to all people. The sorrows of this life are quite often too heavy for us to bear alone. As followers of Jesus we are encouraged to come to God, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. 2 Corinthians 1 reminds us that our God is "the God of all comfort." He is able to bind up the broken-hearted, to heal the most painful wounds, and to give hope and joy during our heaviest sorrows.

The Bible is full of things to comfort believers. It assures us that God knows all about us. Suffering makes us more thankful for our blessings. I know it is often difficult to praise God in the midst of of our suffering, however, suffering reminds us of our dependence upon God. Oftentimes when we are well and strong, we feel that we are self-sufficient. But when suffering comes we depend upon God to help us and to see us through our sorrows.

Suffering strengthens our faith in God. God wants to increase our faith. This strength comes as our faith is exercised by our hope. We cannot always understand the "whys" of God's love but we hope and exercise our faith. God has many promises for us and we need to believe them and apply them to our lives.

Suffering makes our hearts more tender and sympathetic towards others. Unless we know the personal results of God's comfort in our own tribulations, we are not able to comfort others in their trials. To have compassion is to enter in along side of the other person. Suffering enables us to better understand the needs of others.

God is always there for us, but is especially there during our trials and sorrows. God does not abandon us when we need him the most. Just as a small child will run to a parent for comfort and care when they fall and hurt themselves, we must learn to run to God during our own falls and hurts. We must trust that God is waiting to help us. We need only to ask God for help and God will come to us with comfort and love.

Peace and love,


"Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Speak out for love; speak out for justice.

37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40)

Jesus only had two great commandments. God gave Moses ten commandments. Where did all these other rules come from. Every Christian religion has them. Whether it is, not eating meat, or not drinking alcoholic beverages, or banning a group from ministry because of gender or sexual orientation. What has all that have to do with love? How do these rules fit into Jesus' plan for humanity to love and care for one another?
Well they don't. If you love, all the rest is unimportant. If you love, you will be following the example of Jesus Love is caring, having respect, having compassion, having forgiveness,and having patience for all humanity, not those you choose. Jesus does have a footnote to his commandment that says in small print, love only those we choose, or those we consider lovable, or only those who have social status; as a matter of fact he says just the opposite. Jesus commands us to love our enemies, and to forgive those who hurt us. The commandment to love does not discriminate. As Paul tells us, we are all one in Christ. Christianity should be the great equalizer, where all are treated with the same love. Too often it takes on the characteristics of the same society that it may be speaking against.
As followers of Christ we should treat each other with love and respect regardless of anything; there are no boundaries to compassionate love. Jesus came to reduce the burden of a religion that had lost touch with people. Rules mattered more than kindness and compassion. The very same thing is happening today.
You may say that you cannot change a whole religion and that is true. However, you can be a person who speaks up when change is needed. Don't be someone who watches from the protected sidelines, and will not get involved when you see Jesus' commandments being violated. Don't just go along with the status quo in order to remain in control or in the favor of the hierarchy. You can be one who speaks out for love. Change begins with one person voicing an objection.
Jesus died for his commandments. Jesus died so that we could see how one should live. He conquered death by rising, demonstrating that his commandments to love were stronger than any rule that humankind can invent. His power is stronger than any human power. If you allow injustice to continue, you are no better than those who commit the injustice. Even though you cannot control others and their actions, you can control what you do and what you say. Speak out for equality, speak out for justice, speak out for love. Jesus will be right there with you.

Peace and love,


"Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jesus showed us the meaning of humility.

1It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.
2The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"
7Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."
8"No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet."
Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."
9"Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!"
10Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." 11For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
12When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. 13"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Why did Jesus' wash the disciples feet? It was a great act of humility. What we truly see is that this really was a great act of humility. This was completely unusual for someone to wash another's feet. It would be the work of a slave or something you did yourself. By Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, we see a great act of humility and selflessness. Was Jesus leaving the example of performing an outer act of foot washing or was Jesus leaving the example of a godly characteristic of service and humility? It was not a ritual outward act that God is looking for, it is what the outward act communicates!
In the thirteenth chapter of his gospel, the apostle John records a ceremony that Christ performed and instituted on the very last night of his life. It may at first seem strange that the other three gospel writers did not address this act at all in their biographies of Jesus' life and ministry, but upon closer examination, it makes perfect sense why God chose John to record it. The foot washing ceremony is at its root an act of love, and who better to describe it than "the disciple whom Jesus loved"
So why are we not washing feet? Because foot washing is not necessary like it was then and because it would not have any meaning for us like Jesus was showing to his disciples. But let us not cast this away as cultural and so we can ignore this passage. This still has meaning for us. We must perform acts of service for one another. But not simply acts of service. We must do things that we think are beneath us for people who we believe are below us. That is the great example that still applies to us today. We must do things that we would say to ourselves that this is humiliating or that is something we would never do for someone else. Nothing is to be beneath us in our service for others. Jesus showed humility and became a servant. There is nothing culturally obsolete about that. We must do the same thing today.
There is even a deeper level of meaning from this Scripture passage. What happens immediately after this? Judas goes out to betray Jesus. Therefore, Jesus served the very person who would betray him. The lesson moves even deeper. Jesus is asking what we will be: self-serving like Judas or serving others like Jesus? We serve ourselves when we are unwilling to bring ourselves to do anything for others. We are self-serving when we are unwilling to serve our enemies. These are the deep lessons of this passage from John's Gospel.
The foot washing ceremony, allows us a window into the character of Jesus. When we apply the lessons of this unique and instructive ritual in our lives, it gives us a better understanding of why some people struggle to find happiness yet never fully achieve it, and why others are brimful and running over with joy. True happiness is not in what we do for ourselves, but in what we do for others.

Peace and love,


"Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Trust in God's Faithfulness

12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)

We have a choice to make for the truth. It may cost us our friends,
our family, our job, or even our life. But victory is ours in Jesus when we make a stand for the truth. We must be rooted in Jesus. Every part of our lives can be nourished by Jesus; bringing peace and calm in the midst of anxiety, wisdom to handle financial and other pressures, and comfort in times of burden, grief, and sorrow.
We live in a culture that does not encourage thankfulness, which spends billions of dollars every year to encourage discontentment. During these tough economic times there is pain and hardship for many. Many have lost jobs or fear their jobs are on the line. Many have lost homes or have seen the value of their home plummet. Years worth of conscientious savings have evaporated. At the same time, our culture lulls us into believing that what we wear, what car we drive, what neighborhood we live in defines us.
It is easy to focus on what we want and what we fear rather than on what we have. Sometimes the lines between what we want and what we need become so blurred it is difficult to discern the difference.
It is easy to lose sight of our true value, of our inherent blessedness as beloved children of God. However, we can find nourishment and contentment by trusting God’s faithfulness. With God’s leading, we can come out stronger, as individuals and as a society.

Peace & love,


"Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Word of God does not Change

22Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24For,
"All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25but the word of the Lord stands forever." And this is the word that was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:22-25)

Things of this world are temporary, but the things of God last forever, and we live for eternity. We see our identity and importance from that perspective, not the temporary values of this world.

Human nature has not changed. Humanity still has the same longings, the same need for guidance, and the same needs for salvation that we have always had. God’s great truths do not change with the passing years. Honesty, integrity, truth, virtue, self-control, love, goodness, compassion, and forgiveness, are as important in the this century as they were in the first. Humanity has no new problems, or needs, or temptations.
There are new settings and a new pace, but the fundamentals of life are just the same. Our greatest task in this rapidly changing world is to distinguish between those things which are lasting and eternal and those things which are temporary and fleeting.
The Word of God is our eternal guide by which to measure and evaluate all things. Humanity is temporary. Yet, we have a longing to tie our lives to the eternal, to make our lives count for something. The Scriptures with its truths and the God who gave them is the only thing eternal in human existence. When we builds our lives upon God and God’s inspired word, we build not for the moment, but for all eternity.
The Word of God is the mirror of the soul. If we would see ourselves not as we see or even as others see us, but as God sees us, we only have to look into this mirror fashioned by God. If we do not like what we see either in ourselves or in the world about us, we can remedy this situation. However, this will not be an easy task. We cannot do it by ourselves. Yet, we are fortunate, because we have God’s help and God's inspired Word that provides the hope of the future of humanity. If we seek God, God will not let us down. God is eternal and God's Word does not change.

Peace and love,


"Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Jesus is the Bread of Life

35Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. 36But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:35-40)

Why did Jesus call himself the bread of life? This is an interesting portrait of Jesus, since bread is a substance known and used by every society on the face of the earth. From the American who goes the store to buy his bread to the person who cooks his daily ration of bread on a stone beside his fire, bread is consumed by people everywhere. By the same token, most people enjoy their bread. While some like meat and others don't, or some like greens and others don't, most people like bread. Bread is one of the few foods that can be tolerated by most digestive systems. Also, bread has a satisfying quality that few other food products have. Anyway you slice it, bread is good and it is a food that most people need, use and enjoy.
When all this is taken together, it becomes clear why Jesus is portrayed as The Bread Of Life. Jesus is our heavenly bread and has the power to save, secure and satisfy every person who comes to him by faith. Jesus is the only hope for the world. He is what the soul of man needs before it can experience eternal life. Just as bread sustains our bodies, Jesus sustains our souls and gives us life.
Jesus knows our most basic needs and meets them. Bread must be eaten daily. Remember from the Lord’s Prayer; “Give us today our daily bread.” To grow in faith and relationship with Jesus Christ and one another. We need to seek and encounter Jesus 24-7 7 days a week. Bread produces growth. We cannot grow without eating what is healthy such as bread and we cannot grow spiritually without having Jesus in our life. Jesus is the Bread of Life for He is essential to our daily life, health and strength.
Jesus tells us to go directly to the source of all life, to go straight to God in order to find life. Jesus tells us not to look to earthly things for our satisfaction, for only God truly will satisfy us. Jesus challenges us to think about what we really need and what we think that we really need.
In a very real way, we are to become what we eat, to become more like Jesus. Jesus must become as real to us as our need to eat and to drink. Jesus is our gift from God, the Bread of Life.

Peace and love,


"Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

God's Justice vs. Human Justice

1"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. 2He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3"About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' 5So they went.

"He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. 6About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?'

7" 'Because no one has hired us,' they answered.
"He said to them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard.'

8"When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.'

9"The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. 10So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.'
13"But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? 14Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'
16"So the last will be first, and the first will be last." (Matthew 20:1-16)
When Jesus told the disciples they would be greatly rewarded in heaven for what they had given up on earth, He was assuring them that there would no longer be a distinction between themselves and other believers of higher social rank or greater power. In the Kingdom of God, those considered inferior on earth,the fishermen, tax collectors and shepherds,would have equal rank with the scholars, the priests and the Romans who came to Christ for salvation. It’s not a matter of exchanging positions; rather, it is a leveling of all ranks into one. The lowly disciples, who were last in the eyes of many, would be equally exalted in heaven, while those who are elevated in their position on earth would be equal with those who are considered last on earth. In other words, there will be no distinction as to first and last because all will be the same. Jesus further reiterates this point by telling His disciples that those who wanted to be great in the kingdom would do so by being the servant of all.

The Parable of the Vineyard shows that God does not measure in the same we that we do. It is to show it is not the amount, nor the size, but the motive. It’s not how much people have to give that counts, but how much people give of what they have, whatever it may be. God does not measure by merit, but rather by faithfulness to our opportunities.

In God's Kingdom, there is no favoritism. No one will get more because of their status in life, as happens in this Earthly Kingdom. It is difficult to understand God's justice, because it can be so foreign to ours. Not everyone has been given the same opportunities in life, but that does not change God's love for all of us regardless of how much money we have, how much education we have, or how beautiful we are. Each of us are given different gifts, but in God's eyes, no gift is greater that another.

The idea Jesus put forth in this parable is that we need to be able to see each other as God sees us. No one should get better treatment than another. This is kind of a revolutionary idea. Jesus is giving us an example of how it will be in God's Kingdom. It is certainly something to remember as we go through our day. A question we can ask ourselves is "do we treat everyone equally?" Another question we can reflect on "is there any group of people that we look down on as not being as good as us?"
Reflect on those two questions as you go through your day. Then ask yourself, "how would God look at those people?.

Peace and love,


"Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Become like little children

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
2He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

5"And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. 6But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Why would Jesus want us to become like little children? It could be that children are a great example of what humility is about. Children are simple,trusting, lowly, loving, and forgiving, . Children are not complicated. Their thoughts are honest, their motives are pure.
Children are completely trusting of their parents. If they need anything, a shoulder to sleep on, a diaper changed, milk or food, a hand to help them walk, arms to crawl into, they turn to their mommy or daddy with wide eyes, open arms, and complete trust. Obstacles may be in the way, but as long as they’re holding onto the hand of a parent, they are totally confident that they will make it.
Children love discovering and learning! They have no problem saying "help me" or "teach me" or "love me". They point to everything wanting to know what it means, wanting to touch it, and to experience it for themselves. In complete humility, they are open to whatever their parent is telling them.
Children live in the present moment. They are not making elaborate plans for the future. They do not have lofty expectations. Their desires are simple and now! They accept that sometimes the answer is "no". Little children live in a state of wonder and joy. They look forward to a new day when they wake up in the morning.

Isn’t this how we need to be with our Heavenly Parent, to be completely trusting of God? No matter what happens during our day, we can trust that God is indeed taking care of us. When we learn to trust and we hold onto God’s hand, we will discover that no obstacle is too big. We may need to take some huge deep breaths to release all of our fears, but that is what children do. They simply trust their parents, they put all their faith in the fact that their parents will be there for them in times of trouble.

We need to trust that God will be there for us. We can have confidence in the fact that God loves us. We can have faith that God will never abandon us. We can always have hope because God is taking care of us. Have a simple, childlike belief and trust in God. God will never let us down. That's what Jesus was saying.

Peace and love,


"Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Become one with Jesus

1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
(Phillipians 2:1-11)

What does it mean to take on the mind and heart of Jesus? That is pretty heavy stuff. We might have to get serious about life were we to take this passage to heart. And many people do. Having the same mind of Christ is more that just feeling good personally and being at peace within. If we have the same mind of Christ we will confront the Pharisees of our world. We must also challenge our version of Roman governors and political and religious dictators, and refusing to live by laws that are not of the Spirit. Having the mind and heart of Jesus means, in many situations, a death to something or a life calling.
So how do we know when we have the Mind and Heart of Jesus or that we are imitating Christ? The answer is Scriptural, simple, and the hardest thing we will ever do: LOVE. Love God and love our neighbor just as we love ourselves. To live every day in the excitement and challenge of this way of life is, I believe, to have the same mind and heart that was in Jesus Christ. This is a challenge hard to live with, but one we cannot really live withoutout. It is the true sense of the work "living".
Why is this so? Jesus tells us that if we insist on directing our own lives and pursuing our own choice of soul development that not only in the end will we lose our souls, but we will never know what the soul development was he had in mind for us. We will never know why He created us in the first place. A person who pursues his own soul development is not a happy person because only the fruits of the Holy Spirit are love, joy and peace. The fruits of humanity lived without the Holy Spirit are anger, confusion, frustration and disorder. Self-rule does not lead to any kind of peace.
Since the heart and mind of Jesus is spreading the good news of God's love and God's Kingdom to everyone, we must ask Jesus to help us. We cannot do this alone. Our heart and mind are the soul of who we are. Our soul is the result of the decisions we make concerning what our focus in life is to be, the talents we choose to develop, the careers we chose to pursue and how we use our time during the week. Jesus created you and me and when he did he had a created life in mind for us. To love Jesus and each other means to let go of your plans for your life and to surrender to and obey Jesus’ instructions for you in the development of your soul.
It is only in the reality of taking on the heart and mind of Jesus that we are alive and truly engaged in the world, spreading the good news of God's love and kingdom. We do this not just with words, but instead our life becomes the good news of God. We live the good news as Jesus did. We show others the way of the Kingdom. In doing this, we give Gods love, joy, and peace to others, just as Jesus has given them to us.

Peace and love,


Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

God has Gifted us to become New Creations in Jesus

16So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:16-21)

God knew that we were in need of help. He knew that people had sinned and
turned away from him. So He sent His Son Jesus to make a way for people to be cleansed from their sin and changed in such a way that they would be able to have a relationship with God and please God in all they do. Jesus willingly laid aside his glorious life to become a servant. The world would see his love demonstrated by his sacrifice on the cross. His life was given so that we could have a brand new life.

When someone chooses to follow Jesus, they become a brand new
person inside. They will not be the same anymore, but will receive
a new life. Just think! We can have the Spirit of the Living God
living inside of us. He changes the way we think, what we desire
and who we are.

It is amazing that we are the ones that turned away from God, but He does everything to make it possible for us to return to him. It would seem like we should be doing things to “make up” for the fact that we did turn away, but that is not how God works. God is so loving and kind that he has done everything for us, even giving his Son for us so that we can have a relationship with him.

Because of our relationship with God, we have been given the
privilege to encourage others to turn to Jesus, so they too can experience the great love that God has for us.

As followers of Jesus, we represent the Kingdom of God to this world and the King, Jesus. So we need to only do and say those things that would be a good representation of who Jesus is. It is just the same as our parents felt regarding how we behave in public. If you were bad that would be a negative reflection on them. But if you are a good example, obedient and have a good attitude it is a good reflection on your parents.

We need to be a good reflection of the light of Jesus Christ in this dark world. Through personal experience I know that following Jesus is the road to happiness. You may believe that you would be giving something up to follow Jesus, but in reality you gain the world. Following Jesus gives you the opportunity to experience pure joy and the ability to share that joy with others.

With Jesus, you do not have to buy anything, you actually receive something. Not only are you given the ability to experience the love of God, you are given many gifts from God that will help you to share that love with the rest of God's family. Take it from me it is the best gift that I have ever received. That is why I write, so I can share that gift with you. I am grateful to God for the ability to do this.

Peace and love,


"Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Remember, there is no point at which God does not love us.

1 How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
4 my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the LORD,
for he has been good to me.
(Psalm 13)

Psalm 13 a psalm composed by David. This psalm shows David’s crying out to God for help and relief. David feels that God has abandoned him. We must notice and accept that David does feel abandoned by God. Sometimes we may leave people with the impression that they will never feel this way once they become a disciple of Jesus. But this is clearly not the case. There are times when God feels distant, and David felt those times. The protection, refuge, and safety of the Lord seems to have been taken away.Our minds may tell us to give up, to give in, and tell us things that are not truthful. The feelings of loss and abandonment are so great that one is unable to see when the end will come.
It is important that we recognize that this is the nature of trials. Very rarely are we able to see when the trial will end. Even worse, we are unable to see what the final outcome will be from the trial. This is the type of emotion upon which David expresses these words. When we consider the life of David, being a man after God’s own heart, it is easy for us to only recall the positive things that happened in David’s life. Yet we cannot forget the suffering, trials, and traumas that David endured. He lost a son because of his sins.
So what can we do when we feel abandoned by God? The first thing David does is turn to God in prayer. This psalm is really a petition to God about what he is enduring.David is asking God to turn his face, see what is happening, and give David regard and consideration. It is strange to me that this is often the last thing we may do when we feel abandoned by God. Many times, when in such a sorrowful situation, we feel that God has turned his back on us. Yet, that is not what we are to do.
Notice that David tells God he feels this way and asks God to look at him again. Instead of throwing in the towel and giving up on God, we need to turn to God and tell him to give us consideration and regard. Why would we feel that we could not tell God to look at us and pay attention to us? Yet we will throw our hands in the air and say that God does not care. Do not do that. Instead, call out to God. Tell Him to look upon us.
David not only asks God to look upon him and give him consideration, but also asks God to give an answer to what he is asking. Sometimes we wonder why we have not received an answer to our prayers. We have many things to consider that the scriptures tell us concerning unanswered prayer, such as asking selfishly or not according to God’s will. But there is another thing that we must ask ourselves. Have we asked God to answer? We may respond that we would not have asked if we did not want an answer. But that is not necessarily true. Sometimes prayer is used to appease the conscience or to tell others that we prayed, therefore justifying in our minds that we can take matters into our own hands. But prayer is not simply about asking God for something, but also asking God to answer our request according to His will. This means that we have a heart that is truly ready to accept any answer the Lord gives. How often we only accept God’s answers to prayer if the answers match what we want! But to truly want an answer from God means that we are ready to accept the “no” answers from the Lord.
Always remember, there is no point at which God does not love us. There is no boundary or line that can be crossed at which point God will stop loving us. Further, since God’s love is unfailing, He never lets us down. He is always there and meets every need perfectly. Even in our sins, God continues to love us. How do we know this? We know this because God has already proven his love for us by sending his Son to die while we were in our sins (Romans 5:8). If God would show this much love when we were completely helpless, hopeless, and lost, why would we doubt the love of God now that we are trying to serve him? We have reason to trust in the Lord and have hope for tomorrow because of the Lord’s unfailing love. God will not let you down when you put your full trust in him.

Peace and love,


"Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

When we are weak, God is our strength.

14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7:14-20)

I can relate to Paul's message here, because there I many times I wake up in the morning with the best of intentions to do good things during the day, and somehow instead, I allow the events of the day to rule me instead of my being focused on what I set out to do. I believe that the world is full of good people and that there are probably not many people who get up with the intention of doing wrong during the day. However, we seem to let the bad have control over us when the good is what we need to follow.
It is at these times when we feel defeated in not being able to accomplish what we set out to do, that we really need to rely on God's help. It is at these time when I realize that I need God in my life because I am not strong enough to always do the right thing. I am grateful that God's help is available during such times in my life.
We can be defeated by our own lack of strength and ability to handle what life throws our way. We wake up with the intention of following God's word and living a life dedicated to discipleship, but then our own human weakness gets in the way. These are the times we need to acknowledge our own shortcomings before God and ask for help. God will always be there to help us. God knows all about the weakness of the human condition, and does not turn away from us when we fall short of expectations and sin.
It is at these times when we feel most unlovable, that we can count on the mercy and love of God to be there for us. It is at these times of defeat that we can count on God's strength.
God is not disappointed with our weaknesses. I believe that God is disappointed when we do not turn to him for help. Because, our weakness is not in falling short of our intentions, our true weakness is in not asking for God's help to sustain us.
We must always remember that God is there for us to help and love us.

Peace and love,


"Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Cost of Following Jesus

57As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go."
58Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

59He said to another man, "Follow me."
But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."

60Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."

61 Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family."

62Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."
Why do only a few people follow Christ for a lifetime? Why do some appear to follow for a time and then fall away? What prevents us from following Jesus wholeheartedly? Why do many of us prefer to build on the sand rather than the rock?

Why do only a few people follow Christ for a lifetime? Why do some appear to follow for a time and then fall away? What prevents us from following Jesus wholeheartedly? Why do many of us prefer to build on the sand rather than the rock?

It can't be that we don't know about Him. With all the technology available today, the archaeological research confirming the people and places of the Scriptures, the immense volumes of writings of believers explaining their faith, and the exegetical study of the words of the Bible - it's as if we know so much, yet believe so little.

It is not a matter of lack of evidence to convince people that the Scriptures is true; the problem is that they do not want to believe the Scriptures. The reason for this is obvious. If people believed in the God of the Bible, they would have no choice but to acknowledge his authority and obey the rules he has laid down.

Discipleship is a very demanding thing and the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. When Jesus said we should be prepared to give up our possessions, he was calling his disciples to recognize that discipleship is never a cheap thing. What is more, Jesus proved it when He went to the cross in our place. The truth is, when you're following Jesus, people aren't always going to approve. Following Jesus means that he has to take first priority in our life, even if it is painful, difficult, and misunderstood. Jesus doesn't offer wealth or comfort or earthly security. He simply says, if you're coming with me you're going to be rejected by the world. Are you prepared to choose that?

However, as difficult as discipleship may seem, I can promise you that following Jesus is worth the cost. When we stand before God, we won't be answering to our critics, but rather our biggest fan and loved one who will be so pleased with what we've accomplished in the face of opposition. When we stand in God's presence, when we hear the words "well done, good and faithful servant" any price we may have paid here in this earthly world, will look silly in comparison to the rewards that await us in with Jesus in eternity.

So, what does Jesus expect us to give up to follow him?
What are we willing to give up in order to follow Jesus?
What does Jesus ask all of us to do?

I think that the question really is, what can we give in exchange for so great a love as his. What will we give? For you see, two thousand years or so after he lived on earth there is still something exciting and magnetic about this Jesus of Nazareth that draws people to him. It must be the power of God behind his word, and the authority with which he calls us to serve him even now. Following Jesus is not an easy thing, but his word is still the best news this world has ever heard for bad times or good, and that is what you and I are called to remember together. Discipleship is a demanding thing. Discipleship is a delightful thing, and discipleship is a determined thing. If you would follow him, come with all you are and with all you have. Following Jesus is worth it. As Peter asked Jesus in John's Gospel, "to whom else will we go"?

Peace and love,


"Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Have Confidence before God

"21Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 23And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us".
(1 John 3:21-24)

Confidence is another way of saying we have assurance before God. There is a purpose for this confidence. We can not appropriate the promises of God if we are not assured of something when we ask. We have to ask with confidence, and we can only do that when we are in line with God's will.

God's precious promises will not fall on us automatically. We have to know the will of God before we can even ask for them. We have to ask in line with His will. God's Word is God's will. Many people say things like, well, if God wants me to have something He will just give it to me. This is not scriptural and can cause problems for us and get us discouraged.

There is a purpose to everything God does and says. He wants us to be confident in our asking so we can appropriate His promises. He wouldn't have given us promises if He didn't want us to have them would He? Yet, he wants us to grow up into maturity so that we can not only receive the promises but use these promised blessings to be a blessing to others.

Another way of saying this would be to say, we can have confidence when we ask God for something that is according to his will, and because we have confidence in what we are asking for, we know we are going to receive what we asked for. We can say this because our desires are in line with His desires. We are asking for what He told us to ask for. We are asking for His will. This may seem over simplistic but I believe many people miss this important truth and fall short, never knowing where they missed it.

Pray confidently before God, because that is what God wants from his beloved children. We must pray to always want what God's will is for us. God knows what we need and what will be good for us mentally, spiritually and physically. We must have confidence that God's loving will for us will bring us true happiness.

Peace and love,


"Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Jesus did not Yield to Temptation

The Temptation of Jesus
1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."
4Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'[a]"

5Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6"If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written:
" 'He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'[b]"

7Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'[c]"

8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9"All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."

10Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'[d]"

11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
(Matthew 4:1-11)

The temptation of Jesus demonstrates to us the humanity of Jesus. Jesus was tempted, which means that these temptations must have had some appeal to him. If the temptations were real, the implication is that they had an enticing power for him. The possibility of disobedience to the will of God cannot be ruled out. He was not somehow immune to temptation. The possibility of yielding to temptation must have been present. Otherwise, the temptations would be mere sham and charade. In that regard Jesus was no different than you and I.

However, in a supremely significant way he faced those temptations differently than many of us do. Jesus did not yield to temptation. He was always obedient to the will of God. You say, "Of course he could do it because he was the Son of God. He had more power at his disposal than you and I have." No, the only power available to him was the power of the Holy Spirit, and that same power is available to us. We can live a life of victory over our temptations as Jesus did, because that same Holy Spirit that was in Jesus can be in us also. That is why it is so important that we see Jesus, throughout these temptations, as truly human in every respect, yet without sin. And that same possibility of living in the Spirit a life of total yieldedness to God is available to us
The three temptations that Jesus faced further point to his humanity.
a. Turn stones to bread. After forty days of fasting surely there was nothing wrong with eating. Why was there a problem with providing food for himself? The tempter was suggesting that Jesus rely on his own power to feed himself. "Take care of yourself. You deserve it." Jesus says, "No. We don't live by bread alone, but by the word of God."
b. Throw yourself off the pinnacle of the temple. "God will take care of you. Put God to the test. After all, God promised in Scripture that he would command his angels to bear you up, so that you would not dash your foot against a stone." Here the devil quotes Psalm 91:11-12. "Why not gain a following through sensational miracles. You could really impress people with your miraculous powers." Jesus says, "No. Don't test God."
c. All the kingdoms of the world can be yours. "Bow down to me. I'll give you all this political power. Compromise with evil. What could it hurt to wink a little, cut a few corners? You don't have to be so honest every time. If you want followers, you better compromise with evil. You don't have to speak out against religious hypocrisy so eloquently. If you do, you're not going to get anywhere in this world. If you want to succeed, make friends with the devil and adopt his ways." His answer: "Get behind me Satan."

Throughout his life Jesus was learning the meaning of radical obedience to the will of God. As Hebrews puts it, he learned obedience by the things he suffered (Heb 5:8). He was human in every sense of the word. He struggled intensely with what it meant for him to be a faithful Son to God. This is the Jesus of Nazareth that the gospels present to us, a real human being, living a normal human life, and fighting battles with which all of us are familiar.

We are all tempted by things, ideas, and desires that are not the will of God, and consequently, not good for us. We all experience lapses in good judgement that cause us to turn away from God. Evil forces are always out there trying to tempt us to walk down a road to spiritual death. However, the power of God is stronger than all temptations and especially stronger than the forces of evil. We need only to ask for assistance and Jesus will stand with us as we face our spiritual deserts. So the next time you feel yourself yielding to the temptations of life, pray to Jesus. Jesus understands these temptations and will send the Holy Spirit to help you through them, just as the Holy Spirit help him through his earthly and very human temptations.

Peace and love,


"Be still and know that I am God"(Psalm 46:10)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hope in God's Unfailing Love

Psalm 33
1 Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous;
it is fitting for the upright to praise him.

2 Praise the LORD with the harp;
make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.

3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.

4 For the word of the LORD is right and true;
he is faithful in all he does.

5 The LORD loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love.

6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars [a] ;
he puts the deep into storehouses.

8 Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the people of the world revere him.

9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.

10 The LORD foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.

11 But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he chose for his inheritance.

13 From heaven the LORD looks down
and sees all mankind;

14 from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth-

15 he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.

16 No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.

17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.

18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,

19 to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.

20 We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.

21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.

22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
even as we put our hope in you.

It is easy to praise God when things are going well; it is far more difficult to praise God in times of deprivation or danger. But it may be more important to praise the LORD in the difficult times than in the good times. It is in the time of difficulty that we need to remember who God is, what God is like, and what God has done in the past. It will strengthen our faith for the current crises.

Psalm 33 will do just that. The psalmist may have been facing the danger of war, and perhaps related to it the deprivation of food in a famine; but he praises God for his character and his works throughout history. This is not "Praise God Anyhow" as some mottos would have it; rather, it is praise to the LORD for solid reasons, and those reasons inspire greater faith and greater prayer.

Just think about the times that God has been there for you when you have faced the trials of life in the past. We have to remember that God will always see us through our time of trial; God will always be there to help us and strengthen us. An when the current crisis is over you will have a new reason to praise, hence, a new song to sing to the LORD.

Peace and love,


"Be still and know that I am God"(Psalm 46:10)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Witness to the World as Jesus Witnessed to Us.

"Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful." (Luke 6:30-36)

Christian love is giving to others those things that you would want them to give you if you were in their situation. It is doing so even if they cannot pay you back. In fact, it is doing so especially if they cannot pay you back! Christian love is respect for others. It is mercy. It is charity.

When the Scripture translators came upon the Greek word agape (God's Love), in addition to using the English word "love" to transliterate it, they often chose the English word "charity." This was meant to reinforce the idea that agape is a selfless, giving love. God's Love is unselfish and unconditional. Now we know what is meant by Christian love. Now we know what to strive for. True Christian charity is a dying to self.

When the good you do is spoken of as evil, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinion ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart or even defend yourself, but take it all in patient, loving silence; that is true Christian charity, you have died to self.

When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any annoyance; when you can stand face to face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensibility, and endure it as Jesus did; that is true Christian love, you have died to self.

Therefore, what can the Christian community offer our polarized society? One of the greatest problems facing Christianity today is political anger. What can we, as Christians in our various faith communities, contribute to a society which is bitterly divided on so many issues? Some scholars and community leaders worry that people are so divided that violence may become a more common response to conflict than nonviolent protest, civil disobedience or even traditional forms of negotiations.

However, I think this can be a time of great opportunity for the Christian church to witness, perhaps not in the way in which we might think. Our greatest witness may not be in taking one position or another. Like the world around us, the Christian church is divided on many of the same issues. Just to name a few: abortion, euthanasia, sexual orientation, race, constitutional issues such as school prayer. I do not think there will be easy or immediate answers to these questions for the church or for society.

However, I do believe that in the midst of such difficult times there is a contribution that we can make. As the Apostle Paul says in the letter to the Corinthians, we can show "a more excellent way to live." We can demonstrate how to deal with differences while maintaining a sense of community. We can engage in deeply felt conflicts without destroying one another.

Jesus never said that to be a follower of his, you must agree with one another, he said that you must love one another.
Being a Christian community doesn't mean that we will agree on all issues. It means that we will disagree with charity for one another. We will treat everyone with compassion, respect, forgiveness, and patience. Witness to the world just as Jesus has witnessed to us. Being Christian is not just a religious practice, it is following the way of Jesus in every detail of our lives and witnessing our faith and love for Jesus by our Christian love for one another.

Peace and love,


"Be still and know that I am God"(Psalm 46:10)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Learning to Pray Earnestly

The Prayer of Faith
13Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
17Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. 19My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. (James 5:13-20)

What does it mean to "learn to pray earnestly"?
In this kind of prayer you have to involve your emotions and literally catapult yourself into your prayer. It's not a casual exercise but a serious-minded endeavor, intense, with a singleness of purpose, such that you aren't distracted by anything that's unrelated to your goal.

Learning to pray earnestly means that during this kind of prayer you have to turn off all distractions so that you can pray effectively.

This was the kind of prayer Elijah prayed when he prayed that it shouldn't rain on the earth for three and a half years (James 5:17). 1 Kings 18 throws more light on how he prayed earnestly: "And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees" (1 Kings 18:42). Elijah put off every distraction and that is why he got such great results.

So if ever you are encountered with a difficult situation, learn to pray earnestly. Look for a quiet place where you can shut yourself away from all distractions and focus all your energies on the Lord. You have to learn to pray earnestly and refuse to allow your mind to daydream.

Cast your entire self and emotions into that prayer, for the earnest, heartfelt prayer of a sincere petitioner produces results; it makes tremendous power available, dynamic in its working. The results your want are based on your ability in learning to pray earnestly.

A Prayer to Pray Earnestly

Earnestly pray for the Lord's help in everything you do and never try to do anything for the Kingdom of Heaven without the Lord's help.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me and with his help there is nothing that is impossible.

Jesus said, I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

Brothers and Sisters, if we attempt to labor in the vineyard of God's fields of harvest without God's help, our labor will be in vain; but with God's help all things are possible and we will reap bountiful harvest.

Whatever you do, do it with God's help. Amen.

Peace and love,


"Be still and know that I am God"(Psalm 46:10)