Grasping the Love of the Lord

3rd Sunday after Pentecost
Scripture: Galatians 1:1-12

As we begin a 5 week series of messages from Galatians, we need to look close at Paul's past plus the fear of Paul’s actions before and after his conversion experience.

The Galatians had heard of Paul’s savage treatment of the early Christians. The Galatians questioned Paul’s actions because he was not appointed by the early church leaders, nor did he study to prepare himself for his ministry.

Paul did claim that his office was taken directly from the Lord Himself for he was certain that the Lord had called him on the road to Damascus.

Leslie Weatherhead tells of a young boy who decided to become a preacher. He was asked when he had come to this decision, and he replied he came to that decision after hearing a certain sermon in his school chapel. They asked him who was preaching at that service, and he replied that he did not remember the preachers name. But he did know that God spoke to him that day.

Only God can make someone a minister of the gospel. The real test of a Christian is not whether they have gone through certain ceremonies and taken a special vow; it is when someone senses and feels god directly calling him in a face to face experience.

An old Jewish priest said this about the office he held, "It was not my father nor my mother’s wishes that I entered the priesthood, only by a special calling when the Lord himself said 'i want and need you.'"

The real reason that Paul had the abilities and tools for ministry was because he was certain that the Lord had called him. Every effort that he put forward to spread the gospel was because it was given to him by the Lord.

It is not only Paul who has been given the task of ministry as a servant of God. Every man or woman who claims to be a Christian, regardless of who they are, is a minister of the word. What he or she doesn’t realize is that they have the gifts to serve humanity as a faithful Christian.

All of us have a task to perform before we exit this life and enter the heavenly realm.

Paul state that he is giving himself unto the Lord from the gifts that he has received from the Lord. Paul wore the marks on his body for giving himself totally for the Lord. He was beaten 39 lashes more than once and shipwrecked several times. He was proud of what he endured as a faithful servant of the Lord.
Personally, I know of no scars in my life because I have confessed to be a Christian.

Lord forgive me and forgive us for exploiting your love. Help us to be a soldier for the cross. Give all of us strength if and when our faith and love are put to the real test as a Christian.


The Spirit of Truth

1st Sunday after Pentecost
Scripture: St. John 15:12-15

Jesus called us and choose us to be His friend. It is a blessing and a tremendous privilege to be called a friend of Jesus. We are not slaves but partners with Him because slaves have no rights. Slaves have only the desires and wishes of their slave masters. We are chosen to be loved by the Lord, and we are traveling with him constantly through the ups and downs of our lives here on earth.

One should feel sad for a gloomy Christian, for that act is contrary to the joys of being faithful believers of the Lord. The gloomy Christians do more harm than one would realize in the building of the kingdom of God on earth. We are chosen to bear witness unto our Lord even at the lowest ebbs our life. As we have accepted the Lord’s love for ourselves, we are to share that love with all others.

Recall the jingle of many of our childhoods, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

The idea of being a friend of God is seen in Isaiah 41:8, where God called Abraham His friend.
Wisdom is a special gift that the Lord gives to all His friends. We no longer need to question the Lord’s presence in our lives, for His presence is always felt within us. We are no longer slaves who have no rights because we have experienced and sense the Living presence of the Lord.

When we are up against anything, it should send chills down our spins  to realize the Lord is with us.
Our deeds and actions are a living advertisement that we love and labor for Him, the King on earth and in Heaven.

What a blessed gift to advertise for the Lord. Our lives here on earth may often show little rewards, but the retirement of His children is wonderful when this life is over. We store up treasures in heaven, not on earth where rust and moths can enter in and destroy.

Because the fruits of our lives’ services do not bring instant results, it’s hard for us to be content in our society that wants things instantly. With instant food, you just pop it into the microwave and can enjoy it within a few minutes.

The fruits of the Spirit are given unto us during the labors of this life. As Galatians 5 tells us, they are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When we follow and feed on the fruit of the Spirit, we have an abundant blessing throughout our daily lives. Let us pray and thank the Lord for this wealth of blessings.


The Day of Pentecost

Day of Pentecost
Scripture: Acts 2:1-8

The function of an apostle of Christ is to be a witness of the resurrection of the Lord. The real mark of a Christian is not that they know of their Lord, but that they know Him as a personal Savior in their lives.

One of the common sins of us Christians is that we tend to regard Jesus as someone who just physically lived and died. We should study his life as a historical figure, but not as just a man. A qualification of a Christian is that we live daily with Him as a divine figure within our hearts and lives.

We can reflect and test how we live that out by answering this question: When someone hears us speak, do they see only us or do they see and hear the presence of the living Lord in our actions?

Jerome K. Jerome tells us of an old cobbler during the coldest day of winter. The cobbler let the door of his shop wide open. When he was asked why, he responded, “I leave it open, so that if the Lord comes by He might enter in.” In our packed schedules of our daily lives, do we leave the door of our heart open? If the Lord would come by, we should ask Him to come in and fellowship with us.

Lady Aclaimed told people about her small daughter who had a spasm of temper. After that storm would pass, she would sit on the steps making things up. She eventually said, “I wish Jesus would come and stay in our house all the time.”

The reality is that Jesus is with us at all times, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, regardless if we are awake or asleep.

We don’t know precisely what happened on the day of Pentecost. But we do know that it did happen. That day was a supreme day for the Christian church, because the Holy Spirit came as never before. The Holy Spirit was always with us, even though some think that it did not exist before the day of Pentecost.  On that day, the Holy Spirit became a dominate reality in the life of the church and our life.

Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus was a pentecostal day in his life. Transforming him from an enemy of the church to become its greatest missionary at that time. Our attention is so much caught on the story of speaking in tongues that we lose the real essence of that day.

One of the fundamentalist branches of Christianity believes that if you do not speak in tongues or interpret then you have not been baptized by the Spirit. Speaking in tongues is a gift from the Lord, but our Lord does not give the same gifts to everyone.

The Holy Spirit is a gift from Lord to all who claim Him as Lord and Savior. It is the Holy Spirit who enables us not only to hear the word of the Lord, but also respond to those words as an individual. Perhaps if we would listen to the words over the clamor and noises in our lives, one could realize the power of the Lord that exists in them, wherein every day would be a day of Pentecost for us.

Let us pray!

Sorrow Turns to Joy

7th Sunday of Easter
Scripture: St. John 16:16-24

Jesus tells his disciples, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”

His disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’?”

Sorrow and joy are like a woman giving birth to a child. There is pain and grief in the birth process, but that turns to joy when she holds that child. Seeing its beauty, she forgets the pain and celebrates the joy of the child. When Jesus spoke these words to his disciples, He was looking beyond the moment in time to when they and all others will see Him in the heavenly kingdom.

There may be a time when it looks as if our Christian faith offers us little comfort and hope as we struggle with this life. Experiences like losing a favorite job or the stress of raising children and dealing with their behavior or even death of a precious loved one like a spouse, parent, or child. We must always remember the struggles of our Lord, who was physically human and yet fully divine. As an example, in John 11, when Jesus stood at His friend Lazarus’ tomb, He wept. We will likewise face many of these difficult issues in our life.

I will never forget the young lady in the Columbine shooting who was asked, “Are you a Christian?” Without hesitating, she said, “Yes!” The shooter responded, “Well, go to Him now,” and he shot and killed her.

Do you believe in our Lord regardless what life is throwing at you right now? It is in deep sorrow and stress that one should look to the Lord for help and guidance. I believe that there are two precious things about our Christian faith that we must never forget.

  1. Jesus said, “I will never leave you or forsake you,” in Hebrews 13:5 and Deuteronomy 31:6.
  2. Our love for Him is of our free will. He gave us a choice yet some people here on earth live their life independent of the presence of Jesus
Our pain and suffering might press us to question our faith in that moment, but Jesus’ presence in our life at all times encourages us to hold firm to our faith. Those experiences strengthen us with an enlightening new relationship with our Lord. When we truly travel with our Lord’s living presence in our lives, absolutely nothing that life throws at us can destroy his presence in our hearts and lives.

We must reach out to Him with praise and prayer and for hope and guidance in regards to whatever the situation might be. God listens to our prayers, but we should pray like Jesus did that His will be done, not ours. Often we are like little children in a candy store; we want that candy right now, but our parents say, “No.”

With a new and fresh relationship with our Lord, we can accept whatever answer He gives us to our prayers for the tough situations, for He know what’s best for us. May the sorrows of the moment grant us eternal joy and peace as we hand our whole lives over to Him since He knows best.

Let us pray!

The Advocate

6th Sunday of Easter
Scripture: St. John 14:25-31

When Jesus stated He must go away and that He was going to His Father in Heaven, He mentioned that He would give us a very special gift, “The Advocate.” He spoke about the Holy Spirit. He stated that the Holy Spirit would teach us all things that would aid us in a life of fellowship with our Lord.

There is never a time in our lives as Christians that we cannot learn something new, fresh, and exciting about the guidance of the Holy Spirit’s actions and activities in our lives. The Spirit reminds us of what Jesus teaches in our ministry. Jesus said we might not know the future of his teachings, but the Holy Spirit would enlighten us.

One can read the same scripture many times and suddenly, like a light going on, we have a new understanding of that scripture. This is what the Holy Spirit does; He works within us.

Christ said that He offers us peace in our lives. That is something that we all need in our lives today. We live in times of great turmoil, but it is the presence of the Holy Spirit that calms the storms that rage in our lives. It is the Spirit of life that offers us a glimpse of the future gifts from our Lord.

If we really grasp the truth of our Christian faith, we should always be glad when those we love leave us in death for they are going to the Lord! We should grasp the rest and release from the ills of this life, because death is not the end but a doorway to the heavenly kingdom. Frequently it’s a release from serious pain and suffering when our health has begun to fail. The Spirit speaks to us when the struggles of life are a serious problem. It reminds us of the earthly struggles of our Lord.

Jesus was not afraid of the cross. He knew that evil would not have the final word in His life. Struggles can strengthen our faith. No one wants these struggles, but they are part of our human life.

The Spirit reminds us of the vindication Jesus provides. The moment of Jesus resurrection from the grave was a victory over this life. Unlike a conscience, the Holy Spirit does not provide us with shame or humiliation; rather, He provides us victory over our flesh and peace.

The Advocate is our helper and guide over this life enabling us to be more obedient with our love and service for our Lord. The Holy Spirit is the living presence of the Lord in our lives, living daily while on this earth. We need to praise the Lord for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray!

A Convincing Story

5th Sunday of Easter
Scripture: Acts 11:11-18

Today's scripture is a watershed of reality of the Christian faith. We are witnessing that all people of every nations are open to salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Peter had initially been on trial for going into the home of a Gentile. Strict Jews would have never conversed with a Gentile. It is barely conceivable that one would only go into a Gentile’s home. A Jew sitting at the table and eating with them was unheard of. Here Peter outrages the ancient law and must defend his actions.

Peter’s defense was not an argument. It was a statement of the facts. Whatever his critics might say, the Holy Spirit had come upon the Gentiles and must be noticed.

Here is the kicker for Peter’s defense: Peter took 6 brothers with him, totaling 7 people. An ancient law, which the Jews would have known well, states that 7 people were necessary to completely prove one’s case. Roman law, which they would also have known, states that 7 people were enough to seal the authenticity to complete a document like a will. Here Peter is reminding the critics that 7 witnesses prove that Christianity is for all people, Jews and Gentile alike.

While this does not make a bad person good, it does bring a person to the Spirit of God. The duty of Christians is not only to talk about our faith. We are called to live it by our actions and to reach out to a world in need. God’s love and forgiveness is for all humankind.

True repentances is a change of spiritual death to spiritual life that leads to everlasting walk with the Lord of love. Let us confess how we have not been God’s little children when we fail to love as we have been loved.

Who are we to get in the way of our Holy God? We put people into neat, little boxes, but You rip them open so folks can dance in Your joy. We imprison others with our unmet expectations, and You set them free with a word. We build walls around those we don’t know, and You tear them down, so they can run wild in Your kingdom.

Who are we to get in Your way, Saving Power, especially in the way of Your forgiveness offered to all! Give us your vision that sees everyone as equal – forgiven, loved, and covered by grace – even as we seek to follow You, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Let us pray a unison prayer for forgiveness, that we may be witnesses through our words, actions (including love), and unity as the body of Christ!

Call of Resurrection

4th Sunday of Easter
Scripture: Acts 9:36-42

Every time people run towards danger to help other, resurrection has happened. Every person chooses love over hate, resurrection has happened. Every time people come together instead of dividing, resurrection has happened. When the disciples rushed in to care for their friend Jesus’s sheep, resurrection had happened. It happened again when the women rushed in to care for their friend Tabatha. Resurrection happened.

We are called the people of resurrection and we are called to offer Jesus’s resurrection to others.

In our scripture today, when Peter first arrived it was an average pastoral call. Then he found his friend had died. I am sure he was greeted with solemn faces. Many were in tears. There were hugs and loving touches for all who were grieving. Many had received hugs and kisses from the woman they call Dorcas (Tabatha). The widows stood beside Peter weeping and showing him the tunics and other items Dorcas had made while she had made when she was with them. What a wonderful loving tribute for a precious friend that had just left them in death.

Peter dismissed the grieving widows. Now there was only their friend Jesus, a couple other friends, and Jesus’ disciples in the room. Here Peter initiated Jesus’s healing, telling Dorcas to get up and out of her death bed; immediately she stood up!

Then Peter call the saints and widows, showing them the risen Dorcas. For a few moments, it appeared that Peter commanded the limelight that show us Peter in action, yet it showed us the source of Peter’s power when he healed Dorcas. Peter did not say, “I healed you.” Rather, he said, “I heal you in the name of Jesus the Christ!”

It is here that Peter refers to Christians as saints. From then on, Peter continually referred to the church members as saints. That does not mean we are perfect in any way, only that we are holy agents of the Lord Jesus Christ, that we have been equipped to spread the Gospel story. And if and when we do, Jesus’ resurrection power is working within us.

We need a new, fresh, and exciting revelation that the Lord uses us in a multitude of ways to spread his word of love to the whole world. I love the hymn that gives us these instructions: “Count your blessings, name them one by one … see what the Lord has done us.”

Even the multitude of gifts of our lives given to others in Jesus’ name will bring some type of resurrection to those people. Still, we need to know and understand that the Lord loves us, regardless of whatever we might accomplish in His name.

Resurrection is happening all around us right now. This hemisphere of the earth has rested for several months. Spring has sprung! We have seen new life come forth in many ways. The trees are starting to bud, flowers are peeping their head out of the earth, and we see a multitude of colors. The resurrection of God’s creation is all around us, but the greatest resurrection is in our hearts and lives as we encounter a fresh awareness of the Spirit of God in our lives.

Praise the Lord! We are the saints of God. The resurrection is all around us, alive in our hearts and lives. Let us pray!