Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Luke 6:43 - 49 Stand Firm; Bear Fruit

Luke 6:43-49 NIV
There's a familiar children's song about the wise man who built his house upon a rock and a foolish man who built his house upon the sand. The house built upon the sand will fall in stormy weather. The house that is built upon the rock, who is Jesus the Christ, will stand no matter what attempts to destroy it. In fact, the home of the wise man, like the good tree, will bear much fruit for our Lord.

Be wise and live life bearing good fruit.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Luke 6:37-42 Do Not Judge; Help

Luke 6:37-42 NIV
Today we have another very misunderstood lesson from Jesus. "Do not judge, and you will not be judged." This does not mean anything goes. When Jesus says that we are not to judge it does not mean that we should not help someone when they fall. When they stray from the path that he has set before us and start following other gods; then indeed, if we truly love others, we will help them back onto the path. Sometimes, this is mistaken for judgment and condemnation. Saving someone is a far cry from condemning them. Reminding them of the way in which the Lord would have us go does not mean that we are judging them; rather, it means that we are trying to help them.

On the other hand, before we begin to make sure someone is not straying to their own harm; we have to make sure that it is not we who are the ones who have been led astray. Indeed, Jesus reminds us over and over again that we are to teach correctly and admonish when necessary.
God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, April 28, 2014

Luke 6:27-36 Love Your Enemy

Luke 6:27-36 NIV
When Jesus says love your neighbor, he does not mean that we just get to smile when encountering those who hate us. It means we really need to care about them; even when they're not looking. We are to do good to others. It seems it is difficult for those who consider us their enemies to understand that even though they slander us and concoct all kinds of harm against us, the Christian will help them and support them in their time of need.

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." (vs 28) "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." (vs 36)

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Luke 6:20-26 Blessing or Woe?

Luke 6:20-26 NIV
When you are persecuted in any way, because of the Son of Man, it is time to rejoice! I know, it can be difficult at times to rejoice (at least it can be for me); but, that is what Jesus told us to do. He said, "Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets." (vs 23) And, when the whole world appears to love you, then maybe it's time to think about whether you are really doing God's will or the will of man, as Jesus also said, "Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets." (vs 26)

Stand firmly on the name of Jesus; stand firmly on the Word. Humankind may not appreciate it; but you will be blessed by God.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Luke 6:12-19 - Disciples and/or Apostles

Luke 6:12-19 NIV
I have often encountered the misperception that Jesus had only twelve disciples and with it comes the misperception that only pastors are disciples of Jesus. The reading today dispels that myth. It tells us that the disciples were actually many. They were a large crowd. After a night of prayer; out of the many disciples, Jesus designated twelve to be apostles.

Those who were his disciples were those who followed him. In Luke 9:23 we hear Jesus say to the people: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."  It is not just your pastor who is called to follow. It is not just a small group, but a large crowd, who are called to follow. Out of the crowd, God calls and designates some disciples to serve the whole community (the whole world) for the glory of God, according to God's will.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, April 25, 2014

Luke 6:1-11 Day of Rest

Luke 6:1-11 NIV

What to do with the Sabbath? What can one do on the day of rest?

Years ago when my husband was logging, every now and then, he would get this crazy idea that he would have to work on Sundays instead of going to our place of worship. It never failed! The equipment would break down and he'd lose even more time fixing it, as well as a whole lot of money.

When confronted by the Pharisees and the teachers of the law about healing a man and his disciples picking some heads of grain to eat on the Sabbath, he said, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” and "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." In Mark 2:27, he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

I don't believe that my husband was being punished for working on Sunday. But, the reality is that we need to find time to rest in the Lord. Working seven days a week is just not good for anyone. Things happen when we get tired and worn out. We make more mistakes than usual. God gave us a day of rest and the best place to rest is in Him.

The Sabbath is a gift to us. May God help us to be good stewards of our day of rest and use it wisely.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Luke 5:33-39 Fast or Celebrate?

Luke 5:33-39 NIV
Sometimes, change is okay. Sometimes, change is required. Not everyone in Jesus' time on earth was happy about the fact that his disciples spent more time eating and drinking than fasting and praying. Now, this is not to say that they were gluttons or drunkards; but, in those few years that they followed Jesus, they were busy learning from him. They were busy teaching as well as healing with him. There are appropriate times for things and while Jesus was with them; there were more important things to do than focus on fasting.

Today, we still fast from time to time. They might be fasts of total abstinence from something for long periods of time or they could be something as simple as leaving Facebook during Lent. As a church, we must be open to where and what God is calling others to.

The Sacrament of Holy Communion is always an interesting array of joy and sorrow. In some, I see the sober eyes that come with fasting and/or repentance. I see their sorrow at times and it is difficult not to have tears well up in my own eyes. In others I might see joy in that Jesus has welcomed them to His Table. When our little children come to the table, I mostly see joy and celebration. It is very difficult not to smile "big" with them. They come to the table for a blessing or to receive the living Lord into themselves. They are most always joyous. Years ago, children never went to the Table until they were confirmed. But, change has come and I for one welcome these faces full of joy and thanksgiving. Like those first disciples, they don't fast too often (most never), but they celebrate that the bridegroom is with us.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Luke 5:27-32 The Sick Sinners And Jesus

Luke 5:27-32 NIV
I have heard more times than I care to count that someone will not go to church with a bunch of hypocrites. The reality is that those who say this really don't know what the church is. The church is a bunch of sinners who have been made saints by faith in the blood of Christ that was shed for all people. We are people who have been called to repentance and receive God's Word of grace. We repent and then we fall back, again. Over and over again, day after day, we ask for forgiveness. We ask for healing and wholeness in God's sight. Christians are not so different than non-Christians; except that we know that we are not healthy and that we need Jesus to make us whole. So over and over again, we come to Him, with penitent hearts. Over and over, again, day after day, we give Him thanks for forgiving our sins.

The church on earth is indeed full of sinners. The righteous stay home; while, we sinners seek the LORD. We, who live this double life as both saint and sinner, will fall over and over again; but, no matter how often we fall, we trust in the mercy of God and know that Jesus will pick us back up again. By the shedding of His blood we have been forgiven our sins. We have been reconciled to God. We have been made whole. Saints and sinners; that is who we, the children of God, are.

God Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Luke 5:12-26 - Forgiveness and Healing

Luke 5:12-26 NIV
Jesus heals the sick. He heals a leper by touching him and simply saying, "Be clean!" (vs 13) He tells the paralyzed man that his sins are forgiven. Then, after discussing who has the power to forgive sins with the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, he tells the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” (vs 24) The man takes up his mat and goes home praising God.

So what does the forgiveness of sin and healing have to do with one another. Are we to think that we become ill because we are ill. In the story of the blind man that was healed by Jesus (John 9), Jesus pointed out that the blindness was not due to any sin, but so that God's works might be revealed. On the other hand, I have seen many a person who no matter how many prayers are said, what the doctors do, a person remains chronically ill. There may no longer be anything physically wrong with them, but they remain tired and maybe even bed bound. We often overlook that our physical state can affect our spiritual state and our spiritual state can affect our physical well-being.

It is not because God does not forgive; but, sometimes we refuse to receive our forgiveness, hanging to our own sins and our own guilt. We refuse to let go and receive the blessings of forgiveness and healing. We must get over ourselves and let God have His way, blessing us with all the abundance He has to offer, beginning with forgiveness of our sins. Like the paralyzed man; sometimes, we must receive our forgiveness before we can move forward to wholeness of body, mind, and spirit.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, April 21, 2014

Luke 5:1-11 Fishing

Luke 5:1-11 NIV
When Jesus took them fishing, Peter, James and John caught so many fish that their nets were breaking. Then he told them that from then on they would be fishing for people. "So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him." (vs 11)

What does this mean to leave everything behind to follow Jesus? Does it mean to spend an hour at Worship on Sunday mornings? Does it mean we share the good news when it's convenient and easy to do? What does it mean to you? These men made their living at fishing. They left their boat and nets and followed to learn a new thing. They left their very livelihood behind to follow Jesus. If they are like most fishermen that I know, they loved fishing. They left this thing that they loved behind them and went off to follow this itinerant teacher and preacher. They trusted that they would not starve to death. They trusted that he would be with them to lead them. They were unafraid to go follow this new vocation: fishing for people.

Jesus is with us. May God grant that He teach us and give us the courage to fish for people.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Luke 4:31-44 - He Is Risen!

Luke 4:31-44 NIV
Jesus healed the sick and kicked out demons. The demons came out of many people, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" (vs 41) The demons spread the word! Jesus told the people that he was sent to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God. Proclamation, that's what we're called to do. We are called to share the Good New of God through Jesus Christ our LORD. Even the demons did that.

It is Easter. This morning our proclamation is that He is Risen! He is risen from the dead so that all who believe in Him might live and not just live, but live in Him.

So, on this Holyday, what will be on our hearts and minds and our tongues? What will God's people be sharing with others? May all God's people share in this proclamation and not just in hearing, but in speaking this truth.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Luke 4:14-30 Hometown Service

Luke 4:14-30 NIV
“Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown." (vs 24)

Jesus had gone to Nazareth, where he grew up. He was run out of town.

A few years ago, I was asked by a former Bishop to serve the three-point parish where I grew up. I thought about it. But, not for too long. I figured if Jesus could not serve in his hometown, who was I too even imagine that I could? I know that it happens in some places. There are those congregations who have (for the lack of ordained clergy) raised up lay pastors from their own congregations. These men and women need our prayer support. They face obstacles to their ministry that we can't even begin to imagine. Sometimes, they aren't even aware of where the challenges are coming from; but they are there: seen or unseen; known or unknown.

Whether we serve the LORD from within the communities or not, we will find opposition to the proclamation of God's Kingdom in Jesus Christ. Not everyone loved Jesus then. Not everyone loves him today. Not everyone will love his followers.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, April 18, 2014

Luke 4:1-13 In The Wilderness

Luke 4:1-13 NIV
There are times in our lives when life gets a little tough. In times like that we might wonder where God is. Has He turned His back on us? Have we turned our back on Him and maybe quit listening or paying attention to Him? It is times like these when we remember that when Jesus went into the wilderness; he was actually led there by the Spirit.

Thus, you have the basis for the name of this blog "In The Wilderness." We are not alone in the wilderness. God is with us.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Luke 3:21-38 Who's Your Father?

Luke 3:21-38 NIV
Who's your father? One's genealogy is important to many people. There are many in this world who don't have a clue through no fault of there own. I have spent hours researching my own genealogy on the internet. Where we come from is important, but just as important, if not more important, is where we are going and who loves us.

Today we read about the genealogy of Jesus who is the Son of Man and the Son of God. At his baptism, by John, heaven was opened, the Holy Spirit descended upon him and a voice from heaven declared, "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." (vs. 21-22) God is the Father of Jesus. Then we read of his earthly genealogy all the way back to Adam.

We all have earthly genealogies; even if we don't know who is in our ancestral tree. But, for those who don't know their family (and even if you do) you should know that our Father in heaven loves you. He loves you enough to send His only begotten Son to live and die and live for you.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Luke 3:1-20 - Repent!

Luke 3:1-20 NIV
Now John baptized people for the forgiveness of sins. According to Luke, he admonished people to repent of their sins. It does not appear that he was a light-hearted jokester. His words were not meant to please the itching ears of humankind. He appears to be a pretty serious character and an unafraid character, as well. The people who came to him to be baptized, he called a "brood of vipers." He rebuked Herod Antipas for divorcing his wife and marrying his brother's wife. He was not afraid to be a truth teller. He was thrown into prison for it.

People flocked out to be baptized by John; yet, he was hated by many.  And, so goes the way of the those who strive to speak the truth. It and the purveyor of truth will be accepted by some. Others will do all they can to destroy the truth sayer in hopes of destroying the truth with him.

Repent and receive forgiveness. Let your sins be washed away. Repentance is not as easy as some may think. Because, before we can repent of our sins, we must first acknowledge them. If we cannot recognize our sin, our brokenness, then what is it that we think we are going to repent of? How are we going to change if we refuse to acknowledge that maybe there is room for change in our lives?

John's words may sound harsh to our ears at times. “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (3:7-9)

It sounds harsh to those who refuse to repent; to change their lives and follow Jesus.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Luke 2:41-51 Children Belong In Our Father's House

Luke 2:41-51 NIV
Mary and Joseph went home and didn't realize that they had left Jesus behind in Jerusalem. Like most parents, they were probably pretty panicked when they realized He was not with them. They rushed back to find Him in the temple. He asked, "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" (vs 49)

Didn't you know? Didn't you know that our children belong often in our Father's house so that they can be loved and nurtured and taught by the community of saints that gathers there? I am always amazed at how many young people gather with us at Zion. For such a small community, about 1/3 of our congregation in recent months has been God's children under the age of 18. Isn't our Father's house the place all of our children should be? Should they not be there not just for required festivals, but as often as they can? Our Father's house is a place where children can learn to be accepted and loved unconditionally (at least I am hoping everyone accepts all of our children unconditionally). Our Father's house is a place where they will learn that when they become adults, they will have a place, a family, to go to when they are all alone, no matter where in the world they might find themselves. May God grant that not only will children be welcomed into every Christian congregation, but that their parents would desire to bring them and be with them.

On another note... This is Holy Week. On Thursday we will remember how Jesus celebrated the Passover with His last meal with His disciples. Three of our children will receive their first Communion at this service (after their feet have been washed, of course). Please, join us if you are in the area. Worship is at 6 p.m.. I am cooking and serving lamb stew at 5 p.m.. Everyone is welcome!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, April 14, 2014

Luke 2:21-40

Luke 2:21-40 NIV
Believe it or not there are people in this world whose greatest desire is to see Jesus; to be near to Him. Both Simeon and the prophet Anna had waited for this day. When Jesus was brought to the temple for the purification rites, their greatest desire was fulfilled. "Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
     which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.” (vs 28-32)

I know that for some it may be hard to believe that Jesus really is the center of some of our lives. He is our hope and our salvation. We trust in none other than Him for our salvation; for life. We are able to trust others; because we trust Him first. We are able to love others; because He first loved us. He is our life and our salvation. Because of Him, we can live in peace.

For some of us, it is difficult (at times) to understand how anyone would not put Jesus first; why anyone would not give thanks to God as often as possible for the precious gift of our beloved Jesus. Life just goes a whole lot better when God is at the center of your life.

Bishop Frederick Baraga often reminded the people he served to not forget their first love. Our first love is (or should be) God. You shall love the LORD your God above all things. In this you will know peace.

May God grant that we should all have the faith of Simeon and Anna as we wait for the day when we shall see Jesus with our own eyes.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Luke 2:1-20 - The One Who Brings Peace

Luke 2:1-20 NIV
Fear not! Don't be afraid! We read an awful lot in scripture that we are not to fear. We are not to be anxious about anything. Angels showing up and bringing you a message of peace actually would probably cause a little anxiety just in the fact that angels have shown themselves to you.

Yet, in the midst of anxious times, we can have peace. The angels proclaimed to the shepherds, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests." (Luke 2: 14) This peace that God brings is kind of amazing. As we grow in the LORD, we will find that we do know a sense of peace no matter what kind of chaos is around us. It may still be troubling, but we can be at peace knowing that God has a good plan for it all.

A few years ago, I was in the pulpit preaching as usual on a Sunday morning. All of a sudden, I could no longer read my notes. All that I could see was a white light and light shadows of people sitting in the pews. It was a bit disconcerting. But, I did not panic. I kept on preaching, even as St. Paul's vision that brought him to repentance and to follow Jesus came to my mind. I wondered if maybe there was something I needed to repent of even as I kept on preaching; everyone around me unaware of what I was seeing. I was a little anxious about the situation; but, at the same time at peace knowing that God was with me and there was a good purpose for it all. I just didn't know what. I went to the eye specialist that week and was told that I had eye strokes due to the steroid that was in the medication (Advair) for my COPD. I got off the prescription medication and am taking only an herbal, all natural medication. Lo and behold, there was a good purpose. My breathing has improved greatly.

The point is sometimes things happen in our lives that might cause a little anxiety; but, we should know that God is with us and in that knowledge we can know peace no matter what is going on in our lives. Can you imagine a pregnant young woman and the man she was engaged to traveling cross country to sign up to pay taxes? When they get to their destination there is no place for them to stay so they stay in a barn where the baby is born. Can you imagine sitting in a field with the guys watching the sheep settle in for the night and you have this heavenly host singing in the heavens? I'm thinking it was probably, at least, a little unsettling. Yet, the shepherds listen to the angel and go and see this baby that is to bring peace to the world.

Anxiety and peace - sometimes you can have them almost simultaneously. Being anxious about something is human nature; yet, in the midst of anxiety, we can know that God is with us and we can know His peace. Thanks be to God!
God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Luke 1:57-80 - Thanks Be To God!

Luke 1:57-80 NIV
God's will has been and will be done.

The elderly Elizabeth gives birth to her long awaited son. Thanks be to God!

Zechariah's mouth is stopped until the day of the circumcision and the naming of their child. Thanks be to God!

Zechariah is filled with he Holy Spirit and prophesied regarding the future of his child. Thanks be to God!

"....the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel" (vs 80) proclaiming the coming of the Savior of the world; proclaiming the Kingdom of God. Thanks be to God!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, April 11, 2014

Luke 1:39-56 - Sharing and Caring

Luke 1:38-56 NIV
There are times in our lives when we truly need a friend. We need to be able to sit back and share our joys, our sorrows, our hopes and dreams, even our fears with someone who cares.

Mary went to see her cousin Elizabeth. They could relate to one another. They had something in common. They had something to share with each other. They were both to bear very unusual children. Elizabeth would bear John the Baptist, the one who would announce our Savior's coming into the world. Mary would give birth to Jesus, the Son of God, our Lord and Savior.

May God grant that we should all have someone to share our lives with; our joys, our sorrows, our hopes and dreams, and even our fears.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Luke 1:1-38 Angels' Message

Luke 1:1-38 NIV
Angels went to the parents of John and Jesus to tell them that they would have these children. Can you imagine? Can you imagine the fear that might grip you if an angel of the LORD suddenly appeared to bring you a message from God?

Sometimes His Word will cause us fear and trembling at other times and sometimes at the same time it will bring us joy. Zechariah was not only felt fear, he must have felt much joy and relief in knowing that at long last his prayers that he and his wife Elizabeth would finally have a son will finally be answered. I'm not so sure that Mary would have been so joyful with the news of her pregnancy. She would have a lot of obstacles to face. She, after all, is not married, and has a bit of explaining to her fiancée as to how she got pregnant. But, then again, this child, she is told, will be called the Son of God. He will be exalted. That ought to make any mother happy.

Sometimes the Word will bring us joy. Sometimes it will bring us a bit of anxiety. God calls us to follow in ways that we might not choose to go ourselves. I haven't heard of any angels visiting anyone with a message from God, lately. However, He does have a word for each and all of us. We can read His message to us anytime we pick up the Holy Scriptures. We can hear His message to us during Worship. God still speaks to us. His message might be one that maybe we don't want to hear. It might be one we have been longing to hear. No matter what it is, we can know that is for the good of those who love Him. Even as the angel(s) told both Zechariah and Mary, "Do not be afraid..." (Luke 1:13,30) Listen to Him!
God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mark 16 The Tomb is Empty! He Is Risen!

Mark 16 NIV
The women go to the tomb to find it empty. They are told by a young man, who is sitting in the tomb, not to be alarmed for Jesus is risen and the disciples will see him in Galilee. They were still quite alarmed. Trembling and bewildered they fled from the tomb. Who would not? Think about the week these women, who loved Jesus, just lived through. Would we not also be confused and afraid?

Often the stories we hear about Jesus life kind of just seem like such nice stories; but, can you imagine living it? Can you imagine watching your loved one being tortured and crucified? Can you imagine going to prepare his body for burial and his body is gone? I can just imagine our stress levels. Yet, in the end, as the days pass by, they will be comforted, as we are comforted with the knowledge that He is risen! He is risen, indeed! Death and the grave have no power over him. It is way more than just a nice story to tell our children.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mark 15:42-47 Conflict of Interest

Mark 15:42-47 NIV
There was a council member who abstained during the vote of the council of a small congregation. It was concerning the expenditure of about $100.00 for a non-essential item in the church. The budget was very small. The Pastor voted no as a similar item could be purchased for about $10.00 or less, citing poor stewardship. The rest of the council voted for the expenditure. But, this is not about stewardship. It is about why one council member would abstain. It was not a matter of conflict of interest for the council member to vote. Well, I guess there was a conflict of interest. He would not make a decision as a council member in order to stay on the good side of everyone. He simply did not want to offend the Pastor or the rest of the Council by voting against either one so he chose to do nothing. He just wanted to be a nice Lutheran and not offend anyone.

It was the hierarchy in the church that wanted Jesus out of their way. Yet, it was one council member who was willing to put his own life on the line and stand up for Jesus. Jesus was dead, so how was he going to know if Joseph of Arimathea stood by him? But, Joseph had hope in the Kingdom and it was important to Joseph that Jesus have a proper burial. He went to Pilate, knowing full well that the Council would find out, and asked for Jesus' body so that he could give Jesus' body a proper burial. Joseph was not afraid to do what he felt was right. Neither fear of Pilate or the other council members could keep him from doing what he felt he should and must do.

May God help us to do the right thing and not be afraid of what others will think of us or do to us when we stand up for Jesus.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, April 7, 2014

Mark 15:33-41 - Kingdom Rushes Forth

Mark 15:33-41 NIV
"With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom." (vs 37-38)

Today we have one of the most beautiful pictures in words that I can think of. It is finished. Jesus breathes his last breath as true man and the temple curtain is torn in two. I see not just a curtain ripped, but the wall being torn down. The gate has been opened between us and the Kingdom of God; between Paradise and us. It is not just that we now have access into the Kingdom, but the door has been opened and the Kingdom rushes forth.

Receive that Kingdom. Live in it, for it is yours through the sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus the Christ. Thanks be to God!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mark 15:1-32 The Horror Of It

Mark 15:1-32 NIV
Words cannot adequately describe the horror of how the world turned against God the Son the day that Christ was crucified.
He had been deserted by his friends; the church turned against him; the people wanted him crucified; the soldiers and even the criminals hanging with him mocked him. "The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews." (vs 26)
What do you want done with this one whom you call your king, Pilate had asked. Crucify him, the people replied. Indeed he was; he is, a King. He is our King. What would we do with this one we call our King? Often, we, as they did the day of his crucifixion, continue to turn our backs on him. There are days when it is as though we would rather have him hanging on a cross than interfering in our worldly lives. Our king, our gods, are of this world and Jesus is just in the way. Crucify him! Oh, I know you probably don't think in those terms. But, how often do we act as though he is not our King. After all, aren't we suppose to honor our King in all that we say and think and do?
Crucify Him, the people shouted. What would we say (what do we say) when he calls us to follow Him today? Crucify him? Words cannot adequately describe the horror of how the world (even His followers) have turned against God the Son; the Son of God, this day. 
God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Mark 14:66-72 - Denying Christ

Mark 14:66-72 NIV
As much as he loved Jesus, when it came to being willing to die for him, he denied him. He denied him, not once, but three times.

We want to serve Jesus. We would really like to say that we would even die rather than deny him. But, when it comes right down to it, none of us really know if we what we would do when faced with that situation. Most of us will never be called to face this type of trial. But, there are those who have faced death and refused to deny Jesus, even in our day. There are those who have died confessing their faith in Him. Let us give thanks for all the martyrs who have taken up the cross and died for the sake of His Holy Name. May God help us to be faithful in confessing all that He has done for us.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, April 4, 2014

Mark 14:53-65 I Am

Mark 14:53-65 NIV
"...Again the high priest asked him, 'Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?' 'I am,' said Jesus." (Mark 14:61-62)

I am! Two of my favorite words. When confronted about whether He was the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One, Jesus responded simply, "I am." In those two words I am reminded that He is not only the Son of God; He is God. When Moses was busy trembling in his bare feet at the burning bush and trying to figure out how he was going to get out of delivering God's people from Egypt, he asked God who should I say sent me. "God said to Moses, 'I am who I am.' This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.'" (Exodus 3:14) So, whenever, I hear or read these two words, "I am," I am reminded that Jesus is not only the Son of God, He is God.

I believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit - three persons - one God.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Mark 14:32-52 Pacing and Praying

Mark 14:32-52
Completely oblivious to the inner torment that Jesus was experiencing; rather than pray with or for Him, the disciples fall asleep.

How many times have we paced the floors in the middle of the night or fell on our faces praying throughout the night, asking God to deliver us or someone else while everyone else was fast asleep oblivious to the trouble around them or about to come upon them? We pace, we pray, until peace comes upon us, the resolution is at nigh. We are prepared to face whatever must come.

The resolution for Jesus is to be betrayed with a kiss by a friend, a follower. What comes for Jesus is death and ultimately resurrection. Sometimes, (OK - often) the resolution that comes is not an immediate reprieve, but a journey through even darker times; a place where even our friends will desert us. What comes is a journey through the valley of the shadow of death so that ultimately, not our; but, God's will is done.

In order to get to the place where we can know peace no matter what God's will is for us, we pray. We find solace in His presence.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Mark 14:27-31 You Will Fall Away

Mark 14:27-31 NIV
“You will all fall away.”

On the night in which he was betrayed, he predicted that all of his followers would fall away. Peter did not believe it. Yet, they did. Judas betrayed him. The rest stayed hidden in the background so as not to end up on trial and crucified like Jesus. Peter flat out denied knowing him.

How many times do we hide in the background? Afraid to speak the truth because someone might not want to hear the truth and ridicule you or ignore you or maybe just unfriend you? Maybe, they might start ugly rumors about you and your faith. They might even call you something like "fanatical Christian!"

One of the rites of the church that I do not appreciate fully is confirmation. It makes me most uncomfortable knowing that these young people (teens) affirm their faiths, and promise to, with the help of God, to serve Him in the church and in the world. I warn them, that they will fall away and that they should really work on avoiding that. I ask them to please not make the commitments asked of them at their affirmations (confirmations) if they already intend not to keep them. I ask them to, please, not attempt to lie to God. Yet, they insist (most of them) that they will not fall away. They are convinced (or try to convince me) that the commitments they will make will not fall by the wayside.  In almost all cases they do fall away immediately following the rite of confirmation. Most fall away at least for a time, till they have children of their own and desire to have them baptized and confirmed. Some will return, long enough, for their children to be baptized and affirm those baptisms. 
The disciples returned, too. But, they stayed. They did not show up for a rite here and there. They stayed and committed their whole lives to following in Jesus' footsteps. May God help all who have been baptized in Christ Jesus to continue to live with and in Him and if we have turned our backs on Him, help us to return.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Mark 14:12-26

Mark 14:11-26 NIV
Recently, we participated in a rarity at our congregation: a Memorial Service that included the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Not that Memorial Services are rare; but, receiving the Sacrament at one is. It was such a relief for me, to see so many whom I have not seen in a very long time, receive this gift from God. My hope is that they are worshipping God with another congregation. But, I am pretty sure most are not. For some reason, gathering together with the community of Saints, today, is an option.

For Jesus it was not. He traveled (on foot and a bit on the back of a donkey) to participate in the Passover in Jerusalem. As he broke the bread and poured the wine at His last supper, he prayed a prayer of thanksgiving. When they were finished with the meal, they sang a hymn and then went out to the Mount of Olives where he would be betrayed by his friend and handed over to be crucified.

Even as He faced His own death for the sake of His friends and followers, He gathered with them to worship and give thanks to God. May God grant us hearts that would desire to gather together as a community of Saints to remember, to celebrate, and to give thanks for our God.

God's Peace - Pr. J