Children of God

5th Sunday after Pentecost
Scripture: Galatians 3:23-29

Before coming to Christ, we were under the law. By following that law, we were being drawn closer to God.

The Jews practiced and followed the law to its uttermost. They used the law to separate one another by misinterpreting it. They acted like someone was sinning if they walked a certain number of feet on the Sabbath. (8 feet? No, 9 feet J). Yes, the law was like the action of an older slave, whose only responsibility was to care for the children of his master.

It was there to see that they did not fall into temptation, take them to school, keep them safe in the afternoon, and take them home in the evening.

It was not to teach the child, only to be sure they did not give into the temptations of that day.

Jews separated humanity into classes: clean and unclean. Gentiles were unclean and Jews would have no contact with them if possible at all.

All of God’s children are for the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, that his seed would be multiplied as the grains of sand, uncountable. God loves all people. There’s no distinction between Jew and Gentile, male and female, rich and poor, black and white.

We know that God created a perfect world and gave man control over it with one command: Don’t eat from a certain tree in the garden. Over the years, we have said it was an apple tree and Adam ate an apple. The apples were supposedly polished to the fullest of a beautiful creation. The devil tempted Eve and said, “You will not die if you eat from the tree.” And she gave Adam some of the apple, and he ate it as well.

Because of that, God sent them out into the world and sin became a reality in God’s once-perfect creation.

Mankind is still the birth child of God, who loves all and seeks to draw them back into a relationship with Himself. He restores us to His presence.

A Gentile was baptized and circumcised upon seeking to convert to Judaism.

Christ baptizes each of us with His holy spirit, which enables us to follow Him and love Him. He offers all of His children eternal peace and an eternal presence in His heavenly kingdom.

As children of God, we often act like children of this world. And like our earthly parents who still love us when we do wrong, God still loves us when we fall into the ways of the world. He never stops loving us, even when His heart may be broken.

The Lord will never quit loving us, nor will He quit seeking to restore us to His love.

There is much “information” about the “unpardonable sin.” Some say it is taking the Lord’s name in vain or not loving our neighbors.

While I don’t believe there’s an “unpardonable sin,” I believe an unforgivable sin is one we realize yet will not seek restitution with from our Lord. When we ask God to forgive us, He does forgive us and our sin is never recalled or remembered by Him, our Lord and Savior.

We know we are earthly children by the actions of our parents, while at the same time we are God’s children, not just for the time of this world, but for eternity.

Let us pray!

Arrested - A Life Crucified and Risen for the Lord

4th Sunday after Pentecost
Scripture: Galatians 2:15-21

The life of the early church was dealing with a great problem. That problem was over the common meal shared by all members who gathered. The food was provided by pooling whatever one had to share with the others. All were invited, including Jews and Gentiles, rich people and poor people, and slaves and free people. This meal was probably the only full and decent meal that many had all week.

Paul stated that the young Christian church could not continue if certain members of the church were excluded. The church is for all people, and we all are are one in the sight of God. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, rich nor poor, slave nor free person.

Paul saw that the strenuous actions were necessary to combat this practice, for the Love of God was for all people. Simultaneously, he saw elements within this common meal beginning to separate and divide the membership of the church. The Jews had many types of “kosher” food laws that governed their meals. There were also definitions as to what was clean and unclean, and the Gentiles themselves were considered unclean and many Jews did not accept them. For a Jew, eating pork was considered sinful.

Yet the scriptures state that nothing one put into their mouth and passes through their body can defile them. Only that which he speaks that is harmful to his witness to the Gentiles. Paul states that no amount of observing strict laws can make a person right with God! A person cannot earn their righteousness. They must accept the gracious offer of the love of God that makes a person right with God. This was a concept that Jesus tried to get across to the people of the early church.

That concept still plagues mankind today! There are still people in the church who still believe their works "have merit with the Lord."

Jesus was saying that by simply holding on to the law one cannot wipe out their sinful nature. The old practices must pass away, for this is a new day. All people are permitted to come to the Lord for forgiveness of their sins, for His gracious salvation is offered to all.

There are 2 great temptations that all Christians must come to grip with:

  1. There is a temptation to try to earn God’s favor. That is an unhealthy reason for volunteering to do something for the church.
  2. There is a temptation to judge our actions as superior to someone else’s to curry God’s favor.

In reality, it is only through the grace of God that any one of us will see our Lord face-to-face in the heavenly kingdom. If you or I were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to find us guilty?

Let us pray!

Arrested for the Lord

3rd Sunday after Pentecost
Scripture: Galatians 1:11-24

It was Paul’s contention that the Gospel he preached to men was not a story or secondhand tale. It had come to him directly from the Lord. That was a big claim to make, and proof is always demanded from some physical source. Yet Paul had the courage to point only to himself, noting that his radical change of life was given unto him by the Lord. It is here that Paul humbles himself, seeking no glory for himself. Glory goes to the Lord for turning his life completely around.

When someone is proceeding headlong in one direction and turns suddenly headlong in the opposite direction, all their values of life are turned upside down. There must be some explanation for such a change.

Paul’s explanation was that God had led him with His hands upon his shoulder, resting him and pointing him in a new direction. One should not be ashamed to tell the world about their radical change in life. Paul has two things to say about this life change.

1. It was not premeditated. The change in his life was in God’s plan for his life. J. Gossip tells how Alexander Whyle came to his ordination in his first appointment. God had been preparing him and the church to faithfully serve Him, sharing in God’s earthly kingdom.

God is preparing me but this congregation I serve for special works in God’s earthly kingdom that I could never dream of. Long ago, God set in place the factions that would put us as pastor and congregation together. This was long before either of us envisioned being involved in His ministry.

Look at Paul preparing himself for service. First he went to Arabia for 3 years to be alone with the Lord, and here God equipped him for his life. Finally Paul goes to Damascus for a second time. Can we imagine what transpired in his heart as he relived his conversion and invitation to full time Christian service?

It was some time later that Paul returned to Jerusalem, knowing that he was taking his life in his own hands. His former Roman friends were out for his blood. They saw him as a turncoat and a renegade.

I see many of Paul’s happenings in my journey to become a pastor. While the Christian ministry is a great blessing anyone can encounter,  it is not without trials, temptations, and pitfalls.

2.) Where one is being led by the Lord, He offers comfort, wisdom, and whole host of blessings.

He only asks when one is up against the army of the devil and his band that we hold on to our faith, for that moment will pass and the light of a new day for the Lord will shine brightly again. Let us pray!

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!