Laying Down Our Lives

4th Sunday of Easter
Scripture: 1 John 3:16-24

God created us in His image and loved us as His own children while giving us the ability to love Him or rejecting Him. When man fell from God’s grace, we were ejected from the Garden of Eden.  From that point on, mankind has struggled to encounter God’s love.

Into the human heart there are bound to come doubts of God’s love.  Anyone with a sinister mind and heart must some time wonder if he or she really is Christian at all.

John’s heart is quite simple yet very far-reaching. If we feel love for our fellow human being welling up with our heart then we can be sure that the heart of God is in us. We are conscious of many sins if we are conscious of God’s love to some degree.

John would have said that a so-called heretic whose heart was overflowing with love and whose life was beautiful with service is far nearer Christ than someone who is impeccably orthodox. What is the meaning of that last statement?

While our hearts condemn, God heart is infinitely greater.

  • God is all Holy.
  • God is all knowing. 
  • God is all pure.
  • God is all powerful.

Therefore we should fear God! He has the right to condemn us, yet through Jesus and His grace we are saved, with hearts crying out, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!”

While our hearts condemn us, God’s love is greater. It is our knowledge of the Gospel that gives us hope. While mankind judges us by our actions and deeds, the God of all love and grace is the final judge and jury.

Let us look into the scriptures. 1 Kings 8:17-18 tells us that David said “I live in a fine palace, while God has no earthly temple to dwell in. I will build Him a palace.” But God said “You shall never build me a house on earth.” That’s because David had blood on his hands with the killing of Uriah. In verse 19, God continued... “But because it was in your heart to build me a temple, your son Solomon, who is your own flesh and blood, will build a Temple for me.”

The devil seeks to destroy the love of God in our lives by continually reminding us of the things we wish we had done for our Lord but we did not do them.

Mathew Chapter 25:37 says, “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

Therefore we are God’s hands actively living in the world today. Use whatever He places in your hands and you shall be blessed.

Walking in Faith

3rd Sunday of Easter April 19, 2015
Scripture: I John 3:1-7

We often overlook the letters of John only because of their small size, but they have tremendous gifts to offer us in our struggles, to remain faithful to our Lord.

What a tremendous gift to be called "the children of God!"

The reason so many don’t know us as His children is because they don’t know HIM.

The world does not recognize us because they don't see us as agents of God's divine love.

There is a Scottish paraphrase of our scripture for today:
"Behold the amazing gift of love
The Father hath bestowed
On us, the sinful sons of men,
To call us sons of God!

"Concealed as yet this honour lies,
By this dark world unknown,
A world that knew not when he came,
Even God’s eternal Son.

"High is the rank we now possess;
But higher we shall rise;
Through what we shall hereafter be
Is hid from mortal eyes.

"Our souls, we know, when he appears,
Shall bear his image bright;
For all his glory, full disclosed,
Shall open to our sight.

"A hope so great, and so divine,
May trials well endure;
And purge the soul from sense and sin,
As Christ Himself is pure."

John begins this letter demanding that His people should remember their privileges.

Just belonging to a great school, a great regiment, a great church, and great household is an inspiration to fine living. It's even more to bear the name of the Family of God. This in itself ought to keep us on the right pathway, seeking to climb higher and higher towards the Lord.
But John points out, we are not merely CALLED "the children of God;" we ARE the children of God.

There is something here that is noteworthy: We are the children of God by the greatest and wonderful gift of God’s Son, Jesus the Christ!
By nature, man is a creature of God because God is his creator, but it is by grace that mankind becomes the children of God.
The Old Testament tells of our covenant relationship with God. The New Testament shares with us our adoption as God’s children, because of the blood sacrifice of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. By the deliberate act of God, all Christians enter into the Family of God.

Immediately the question arises: if man has that great honor, why are so many downtrodden, displaced, and unrecognized by the world? The answer is quite simple. When Jesus came into the world, the world did not recognize him as God’s son, nor has it recognized the Christian as a child of God.

Therefore, some are bound by their faith in the eyes of a sinful world, yet God promised he would not leave us or forsake us, if we remain faithful to His promises.

“I will be your God if you will be my people.”

Let us pray.

Praise or Doubt

2nd Sunday of Easter
Scripture: St. John 20:19-30

It’s late on the first day of the week after Jesus has been raised from the dead! The disciples are huddled together in the upper room, where they shared the Passover meal with Jesus. Thomas is absent from the group. Jesus comes and stands in their midst saying, "Peace be with you."

They all rejoice in seeing Him once again. For a second time Jesus says, "Peace be with you." And then He breathed upon them the Holy Spirit, saying, "if you remit the sins of anyone, they are remitted. If you retain them, they are not forgiven.”

He then said that “God the Father has sent Me. Now I am sending you. Go and make Disciples of all men and nations.”

Bishop B. F. Westcott calls this “The Charter of the Church.”

It means 3 important things:

  • Jesus needs the Church
  • The Church needs Jesus
  • Jesus sends out his Disciples

One thing is quite certain: no man or woman can forgive another man or woman’s sins. Yet it is a great privilege of the church to send out men and women for Christian ministry.

At the ordination of an Elder in the U.M.C., these words are spoken: “Take the authority to preach the word and share the scriptures.” They announce that God forgives sins! These human agents are to bring the message of forgiveness and truth of the scriptures.How that is received depends not only on the messenger, but the message itself.It depends on the credibility of the messenger if people will respond to the message. If they respond, it is always with the aid of the Holy Spirit.

Over these last 2,000 years, has the church been faithful as the living presence of God and His love for the world?

Thomas is an example of how someone may or may not respond to the message of God’s forgiving love. Thomas expressed first hand evidence by seeing for himself Jesus’ wounds, and that he and 500 other witnesses saw Jesus alive again.

It is here that we need to take that confirmed faith and share that faith, not our denomination. We need to hear and listen to the voice of God through the Gospel message like the church in Jesus’ days on Earth. She was not a perfect church, nor is she today.

False prophets come leading the masses astray. James Jones was one such person. Yet the church is God’s tool in the world today to spread His love and forgiveness. Today, have we gotten ourselves sidetracked from our primary goal? Is our focus to make disciples of all persons.

A second function of the church is to be God’s hands in our lives today, to prepare the road for new life that will emerge from the church’s actions today.

When Christians come together sharing their faith and not their denomination, new and exciting life will emerge! Let us pray together!

Seeing Jesus

Easter Sunday
Scripture:  St. Mark 16:1-20

Before we can fully experience Jesus’ resurrection, we need to once again grasp and comprehend that he had truly died. We so often skip over the horror of his death and jump right into his resurrection, not wanting to realize what he suffered for our sins.

Today we see the women going to the tomb to anoint his body for burial.  Not to take him lunch or to offer him a change of cloths or expecting to hear his voice, once again. Let us walk with these women, as they go to the tomb. Their conversation was about who would remove the stone from the entry? It was way too heavy for them to move. They had asked no one to come and help them. They were just like you and me.

We go to the cemetery and go to the grave of a loved one, that we might feel close to them once again and recall the happiness they brought to us in this life.

Mark want us to realize the great miracle that just transpired.

He was dead, but now He is alive once again! This is a new day. Only 1 other has been raised from the dead: Lazarus. It was by the power of our Lord, Jesus the Christ to prove that He had the power over sin and death.

As they looked into the tomb, they were dumbfounded. They saw a lone figure of a man dressed in white where the body of Christ had lain. He asked, “Who are you looking for?” Mary answered “Jesus, who was crucified.” The Angel told them, “He has risen just as He said.” He also said, “Go tell my disciples, I am going into Galilee.”

Jesus had previously said “Destroy this body, and in 3 days I will rise again”  (John 2:19).

In fear and great wondering, Mary goes to find Peter and the other disciples, to tell them what had just happened. In the account of Mary, standing and crying in front of the open tomb she sees a figure of a man. Thinking he might be the caretaker of the cemetery, she asks him, “Where have you taken Him? I want to prepare Him for a proper burial.”

Only when the figure addresses her by saying “Mary!” did she realize that He is the risen Lord Jesus!

All too often we gloss over Jesus’ terrible death and the interchanges with Mary, disclosing the risen Lord. For we are so excited that He has risen that we completely lose sight of what Christ’s resurrection means for each one of us. That we worship a RISEN… LIVING… SAVIOR!

He’s in the world and wants to live in our hearts and lives.

Easter is so much more than:
Colored Eggs
Chocolate bunnies
Decorated baskets
Easter lilies
New cloths
Family gatherings
Sunrise services with breakfast

Easter is the reality that our Savior lives! We can have life abundant and eternal with Him in the “here and now” and in eternity.

Therefore, regardless what this life might bring, like …

  • A freak accident that snuffed out the life of a young mother with 2 small children…
  • A freak air tragedy that disappears with no trace…
  • A plane that falls from the sky , at the hands of a very sick pilot…

We have a living Lord to help us deal with life. Regardless what is transpiring, He walks with us in this life daily, Offering us His abundant love and presence with us.

Praise the Lord! Our Savior liveth, that we might live also.

Praise the name of Jesus, the Christ, our Lord.