Father God

9th Sunday of Pentecost
Scripture: Ephesians  3:14-21

When I say "father," what image do you feel and see in your heart and mind?                                        
Paul is making a huge step of faith when he speaks of the Holy God as Father. Fatherhood comes with a large responsibility. While a man can be a sperm donor, he may never care for the child as a father. In the Old Testament, God was not spoken in terms of as a Father.  In the Old Testament, God was seen as an impossible entity to approach. To see God face to face meant instant death. It was only on the Day of Atonement that the High Priest could go into the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant was, to offer prayer for the sins of the people.

Recall when Moses came down from Mt. Sinai. His face shown like the sun and the people believed that he had been with God.

It’s only in the New Testament, that the writers speak of God as a Father. Recall when Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan river.  When He came up out of the water, the voice of God was heard saying “This is my beloved Son."

Paul said in Ephesians 3, where he talked about sharing with the Ephesians, that God is our Heavenly Father.  He also said that He transcends all aspects of our earthly father.

It is through Jesus Christ’s blood we can approach God personally, yet today every church family has members who question the basic fact that our faith response makes God approachable. That is simply not the case.

Do not be swayed from the truth by the last person you have spoken to. Stand firm in the faith and in scripture. Paul speaks of a clever trickery and many that offer their opinion.

Like James Jones' followers in Guyana, they were deceived. These people are excellent actors.
In seducing and causing many to fall from grace. There are some that follow the preacher and not the Lord he preaches about.

Who was the first one to call God The Father? It was Jesus!

God the Father is not an entity out in outer space, nor just in Heaven.
He is right here, right now in this sanctuary.
He hears each word that is spoken.
He senses each thought in our hearts and minds.
He sees each of our reactions to what is going on.
He knows us better than we know ourselves.

Paul is making us aware that if we water down our understanding of a loving, caring Heavenly Father, we are shortchanging ourselves to the fullness of the Father Grace. Paul makes aware that it is ever so easy to abandon our faith by often following mortal man and not the Father in Heaven.

If we don’t hold onto the Faith, it causes spiritual stagnation and narrow mindedness. That leads to limited understanding of the fullness of God's presence.

Praise God the Father who loves us and knows us. In spite of ourselves His love is so great that He sacrificed His only Son as a ransom for our sins.

Let us pray… Thank you Heavenly Father. We can comprehend your love for us for forgiving our sins through the blood of Your Son Jesus Christ. Amen!

A Holy Seal

Seventh Sunday of Pentecost
Scripture: Ephesians 1:3-14

We are all sealed with a holy seal when we confess our faith. God placed that Holy Seal upon us by the sacrificed blood of Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son.

Paul begins the letter of Ephesians claiming 2 things:
1.) He is an apostle of Christ.
2.) His approval came only through the will of God.

Paul’s apostleship means that his action is through his commissioning as a gift from God. He likewise is amazed that God could use him, with such a dark and sinful background. As Christians, we must never be filled with pride. We must only be filled with wonderment and amazement that the Lord sees our worth in spreading the Gospel.

When we confess our faith and love for Jesus in our hearts, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit for the tasks that lay ahead of us. That seal is for God’s grace and peace.

The grace and peace from God is always a precious gift. It is impossible for us to obtain by our own efforts. We can never earn it. It is always a gift from the Loving Lord. God’s peace is something that is independent of our own outward circumstances.

One might live a life of ease and luxury in the world. One might have the finest things in life...

  • a huge fine mansion
  • a large bank account
  • a host of friends

…while having no real sense of peace within their heart and life.

Take some of the 3rd world nations. They might make a couple dollars for a whole day’s work, yet they can have a smile on their face and a real sense of peace in their heart.

The explanation of that peace can be seen in the one set of footprints in the sand, the awareness that God is carrying them through this ordeal.

I sense that Paul thought a person who has the love of God in his heart and nothing more could have the peace of God. He reminds us that many of the choices we make can rob us of God’s peace. For we were created to be God’s chosen ones, but by our own default we reject the will of God!

The choices we make in our own lives may draw us away from God’s love or draw us closer to His love because he created us with free will.

There is a story of a rich man and beggar (the 16th chapter of Luke). The rich man never saw the beggar at his doorstep, but the beggar asked the rich man to send Lazerus to warn his 5 brothers that they should not follow in his footsteps.

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.
20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores
21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.

23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.
24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.
26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place,
so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family,
28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’”

The choices we make now, may seem inconsequential and yet if the rich man would have given the beggar a drink of water, the Lord would have seen it and blessed him.

We always have 2 choices in life.

  1. We can go the way of the world
  2. We can go above and beyond the world… 

laying treasures in heaven, laying great treasures in Heaven.

Who are we going to follow? The way of the world or the way of God?

Rejoice in His holy seal that God seeks to put upon our lives. Amen!

Thorns or Grace?

Sixth Sunday of Pentecost
Scripture: 2nd Corinthians 12:1-10

Our scripture starts out with Paul speaking about a man in Christ giving of himself to the Lord. Paul knew this man for 14 years. In this passage, he spoke about being "caught up in the 3rd Heaven."  He likewise states that he did not know if this was with his body or without his body being in the Spirit.

About this man I will boast. About myself, I will not boast. I will not be a fool, for I will speak only the truth.

Paul speaks about a thorn in his flesh. Some believe that it was a form of Malaria Fever that haunted the coastal area he traveled in. Others thought it might have been a Spiritual temptation or "constant doubt" that he was doing the will of the Lord.

Others thought it was fear from shirking his duty.

Yet others thought it was carnal temptation. Monks and hermits shut themselves in monasteries to tame the instinct of sex.

Yet none of these solutions can be right for 3 reasons:
1.) The text states that it was severe pain.
2.) Others thought it was physical suffering of a deformity.
3.) The pain was intermittent.

It states in 2nd Corinthians that Paul might have had a weakened body. Sometimes he could hardly share his love for the Lord.

Paul does not tell us nor does the scripture identify the thorn in Paul’s side. Paul asked the Lord several times to remove the thorn. The Lord said no. His grace is sufficient.

Paul would not let the thorn in his side stop him from serving the Lord.

What is the thorn in your side? We all have at least one that limits us from our ability to faithfully serve the Lord our God. Are you limited in sharing your faith with others? Fearful of not saying the right things?

We are not to worry about what we might say, for the Lord said He would give us His words. Just tell your story. Tell them your love of the Lord and how He has been with you every step of the way. Remember the footsteps poem I shared a few week ago?

Some won’t try to increase their limited abilities because of the lack of education or even comfort level.  

I cannot sing on tune or read music, yet I enjoy making a joyful noise unto the Lord. That’s all that is required of us. With all the thorns in my life, the Lord had not made me useless in speaking the Word of God for 45 years.

We need to stop holding back our gifts and talents the Lord has given us. I knew a lay pastor who had a speech impediment, not unlike Moses. He stuttered constantly when speaking, yet when he started to preach his speech was clear and without any evidence that he had a stuttering problem.

We need to not be limited by the thorns in our lives that seek to hinder us of our true capabilities to share the Love of Christ. As we seek to serve the Lord, may He not remove the thorns in our lives, but use them to spur us on and do his will as He desires rather than settling for our unwillingness to step out in faith.

May we praise the Lord with the amazing grace that He has given each and everyone of us who is willing to be used by Him to tell His story.