Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Something on my mind this morning….
The Bible is not filled with only virtuous people. That may or may not be a shocking statement to make. But it is true. Sure there are many who are virtuous and those who become more virtuous as their story progresses. Then there are those who are riding a roller coaster in this regard.
We learn much from folks like Daniel and Ruth, and of course Jesus! We see the obedience of Abraham. We first get to know Noah as being obedient to the call of God to build the Ark, but then we see his post “cruise” less than stellar action. King David, known as a man after God’s heart is an adulterer who sets up the killing of Urriah in battle. Roller coaster? Yep. Peter is another good example of a person in the Bible who rides the righteous roller coaster.
In one of our first homes as a young navy couple, we lived on the second floor in our apartment complex. Of course, there was a third floor. The couple that lived there was not shy about arguing. One of the common lines we would hear from the husband was, “What about me?” And he wouldn’t just say it once. Now, I have no idea what led to him saying that repeatedly, but one thing was for sure. Either he always wanted the focus on him or he felt the wife always wanted the focus on her. Either way, someone was focused on themselves and was mad not everyone else was as well. This argument line happened often enough that 31 years later we still remember it.
What might this have to do with today’s passage? Hold that thought for a few moments please.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”2 Timothy 1:7
We are living in tumultuous times. We watch the news. We spend time on social media. We aren’t spending time with our family of faith like we enjoyed just a few months ago. All of this may be driving us to a place of sadness, anxiety, even fear. Honestly, it is in this place I find myself this morning. Then comes the challenge of providing something for an email to be sent out to brothers and sisters in Christ. A message that might uplift, inspire, and encourage.
Motivation is a topic very much on my mind right now. There are a lot of assumptions going around about why people are saying and doing the things they are, or often not doing.
Presumption of innocence is a critical legal idea in the United States. When someone is in court they are supposed to be presumed innocent unless a jury of their peers determines guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That is my understanding of how the judicial system is supposed to work, or maybe I have watched too many legal dramas on television.
I am not a lawyer or a legal scholar and I am not trying to pretend that I am. What I am writing here is 100% my opinion. I would like to think that my opinion is formed on the foundation of Christian beliefs. This in turn is based on my theological understandings of the Bible. One of the passages my focus has been drawn to is Colossians 3:23-24. A pastor friend shared it on his Facebook page and the words of Paul really have me thinking.
Jesus had ascended right before their eyes. We know during Jesus’ three years of ministry on Earth, the disciples has seen many unbelievable things. His appearances after the Resurrection must has been, for a lack of a better term, “mind-blowing.” Then came His Ascension into heaven. Certainly, nothing could compare, right? But to quote every infomercial ever, “But wait! There’s more!”
This “more” came in the form of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. With tongues of fire on each of the disciples, the Holy Spirit came upon them. They began speaking in tongues that the people that had come from all over the Roman Empire for Pentecost could understand. The disciples were accused of being drunk at 9:00 AM. But no. They were not drunk, they were filled with the Holy Spirit who gave them this gift of being understood by everyone, regardless of their native language. The Holy Spirit speaks to each of us, not only through language as commonly think of it, but through inspiration with a small still voice.
There is a lot of conversation going on lately about church. Is it a God-given right? Can church be closed by government officials? Can church be opened by government officials? What is safe? What is necessary? Is church the building or is it the people or a unique combination of both? What is church?
The above questions have become polarizing. National politics, theological politics, fears from society opening up and people being in greater contact with one another and fear from others who fear the repercussions of staying home and out of work. The repercussions of either choice may impact our physical health, but also our mental, emotional, and financial health. There are a lot of high emotions on every side of the debate.
Ephesians 3:14-21 is a prayer shared by the Apostle Paul. My study Bible says that Paul wrote this as an acknowledgement of all that God is doing in the lives of believers. Paul asks God for the believers at Ephesus to be strengthened with power through His Spirit. This is just the beginning of all that Paul asks for the people of Ephesus. I believe that Paul is asking the same for each of us. He asks God for gifts for us and he asks God that we grasp “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”
This passage goes on and on about the incredible gifts, love, and power of God. After all of this, the Word tells us that God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or can imagine! The power in this prayer comes not from the one praying it, but from the one to whom he is praying. The might in this prayer is not confined to the people of Ephesus. The One to whom Paul is praying was not just a God of that time, but is the God of this time and the God of all time.
James, the brother of Jesus, shares some difficult teaching with these words.
“My dear brothers take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, so to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” James 1:19-20
James begins his letter speaking of trials. He calls on his readers to consider it pure joy when they face trials. He talks about how going through these trials in faith will bring about perseverance so that reader may become mature, complete, and not lack anything. James is not saying his readers will not face trials because they are believers in Jesus Christ. He does tell them their perseverance in faith will make them complete and mature. Even though we are reading his words 2.000 years later, the message is the same for us.
Until I was 10 years old, I lived next door to my grandparents. I saw them nearly every day. My aunt, uncle,and cousins lived on the other side of us. I remember thinking that everyone grew up like that. What a surprise when I found out how unusual that was. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. We would talk and play cards and, no doubt, she formed my love of needle crafts of sewing, quilting, crocheting, and knitting. She loved to bake. Well, I don’t know that she loved it, but I know she was really fabulous at it. When I was 16 she asked me what I would like for Christmas. It was an easy answer: an APPLE PIE! God bless her, she made me an apple pie. I shared it with my boyfriend, a cousin, and her boyfriend after midnight mass that Christmas.
John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
This is a verse that I have loved for a long time. To me, it gives hope and sets things straight. Right in this one verse we have the set-up of how things are, how they always been, and how they have always been.
I adopted this verse for Winter Grace Senior Ministries, Inc. I see it as a great summary of good vs evil, God vs the evil one, satan, the world, however you want to name the other. God gives hope, abundance, fullness. The other takes by stealing, killing, and destroying.