Thursday, July 31, 2014

John 6:1-15 - Feeding Your Neighbor

John 6:1-15 NIV
The feeding of the 5000 is one of my favorite stories among many favorite stories. Such a miracle! But, today I'm not wondering so much about the miracle of five small barley loaves and two small fish feeding the multitude. Today, I am wondering about the miracle of this boy who was willing to give his five small barley loaves and two small fish to feed the multitude. Who was he? Where did he come from? Where were his parents? Were they lost in the crowd somewhere? How did he come to have these loaves and fish? What was going on in his head when he gave them to Jesus to feed the people around him? Was he reluctant? Was he excited over the prospect of feeding his "neighbors?"

How excited do you get over the prospect of feeding your neighbors with food for the body as well as the soul? Are you reluctant? Do you calculate how much you can actually give and still have enough for yourself to be a bit more than comfortable? Do not worry. These five small loaves and two small fish fed 5000 men plus women and children and they still had leftovers to gather up. Do we suppose that God cannot do this today as well? Give generously to those in need then of both food for the body and food for the soul and do it with a joyful spirit! Let's get a bit excited about our opportunity to be able to participate in the mission God has called us to. Let's get a bit more excited about living in His Kingdom, even today!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

John 5:31-47 Believe the Testimony

John 5:31-47 NIV
Jesus knows you. He knows whether you have the love of God in your heart or not. He knows whether you believe or not. John the Baptist came to testify to the truth that we might be saved. The prophets testified to Jesus coming into the world. Yet, the world refused to believe. Holy Scripture gives testimony of Jesus. Yet, do we believe? Do we believe the Scriptures or even though we read the word about the Word does it fail to make its way into our hearts and minds?

Jesus testifies that the people study the Scriptures diligently because they think in them they have eternal life. The Scriptures direct us to Jesus. We read the Scriptures (now and then?); yet, how many of us refuse to go to him for life and salvation?

At the NALC Convocation this past week, one of the speaker's asked us to consider on a scale of 1 to 10 where our level of passion for the LORD is. Where is it? Is it a 5 or maybe just a 2? Hopefully, many can say that it is much higher than that. Is our passion for God low because just maybe our faith is waning? Who can hear what Jesus has done for us without being filled will love and passion for Him? Only those who are not really paying attention to the testimony of Scripture.  

In order to keep your passion from waning, dive into the Scriptures. Read them, study them, hear them and may God open our hearts and minds that we might believe and be saved.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

John 5:16-30 Our Father by Faith Alone!

John 5:16-30 NIV
How does one cross over from death to life? By faith alone!

"Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life." (vs: 24) There is no other way, but by faith. You cannot earn your way into eternal life.

The Jewish leaders had a problem with this. They had a problem with Jesus calling God, "My Father." They reasoned that this was blasphemy. Yet, that is the kind of intimate relationship Jesus had with our Father. Yes, He is "Our Father," too. By faith, we have eternal life as His beloved children. This is most certainly true. It is most certainly Good News!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, July 28, 2014

John 5:1-15 Confess That You Have Been Made Whole

John 5:1-15 NIV
Today, as yesterday, we have a healing. Jesus asks the lame man if he wants to get well. Why would he do this? I'm thinking, as I said yesterday, it may well be that not everyone actually wants to get well. It might appear to some that being made whole is going to include a change or two. You just might have to pick up your mat, walk, and follow Jesus. At the least you might have to publically acknowledge that Jesus is the reason you have been made whole.

This lame man was unaware who Jesus was when he was healed so he could not tell anyone who had healed him. But, later Jesus saw him again and stopped to talk to him; exhorting him to "stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." (vs 14) Now that the man knew who had healed him, he went and told the Jewish leaders that it had been Jesus who healed him.

May God help us to openly and publically confess that we, too, have been made whole through the blood of Jesus the Christ.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, July 27, 2014

John 4:43-54 Signs and Wonders/Healing and Wholenss

John 4:43-54 NIV
"Unless you people see signs and wonders," Jesus told him, "you will never believe." (vs 48)

How many signs and wonders have we seen and yet our faith is less than a mustard seed. It kind of amazes me that our services for healing at Zion are the least attended of all. Does no on want to be healed? Does no one believe that God will answer our prayers for health and wholeness?

Actually, I believe that maybe many of us are afraid to see the signs and wonders of God. That might mean our lives will change forever and we kind of like living in our sickness. We sort of like sin. We don't want to be made whole because if we're made whole we might stand up, walk, and follow Jesus.

In reality, we have all seen signs and wonders. We just fail to acknowledge them. We have seen the lame walk; the cancer victim live years after doctors predicted they would live. As we got to know Jesus more intimately, we have already seen radical changes in our lives and our lifestyles. But, does God the Father, through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit get any credit or glory for this new life; for the healing of our spirits? In some case, yes. In other cases, I am afraid that our egos step in and claim credit for our own goodness.

Miracles abound. They are all around us. Healing and wholeness occur. May the Holy Spirit open our ears and our eyes and our hearts to a greater understanding of all that God has done for us. He has granted us wholeness in Jesus Christ our Lord.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, July 26, 2014

John 4:27-42 Come and See

John 4:27-42 NIV
So what did this "woman" at the well do in response to Jesus knowing all about her and still inviting her to drink of the water of life?  She went and told. She told them to come and see for themselves.

So when was the last time you told anyone to "come and see?" When was the last time you invited anyone to come and hear for yourself; come and drink from the water of life; come and meet the Savior of the world? It's about time, isn't it?

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, July 25, 2014

John 4:1-26 Jesus Knows and Still Invites

John 4:1-26 NIV
Five husbands?! Who could endure that? Who would even consider that today? I imagine there are a few, but the percentage of women who want to learn to live with five different men in one lifetime is probably pretty low. Of course, in Jesus' day, women were not much more than property. They needed a man to care for them or they would not survive. If not a husband, then a son or other male relative would care for them.

This woman not only has had five husbands, she now is living with a man who is not her husband and just as bad (according to many Jews), she is a Samaritan. They were not considered to be equal with the Jews, by the Jews. Samaritans were people to be avoided.

Jesus knows all this. He knows she is a sinner. He knows she is a Samaritan. Yet, he communicates with her. He asks her for a drink of water and invites her to ask him for a drink of the living water which only he can provide. Jesus does not shun her. He does not shun anyone. All are invited to drink of this cup of living water. Will you? Will you drink of the cup of life? Will you worship in Spirit and in the truth?

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, July 24, 2014

John 3:31-36 - Universalism

John 3:31-36 NIV
So much for univeralism (everyone is saved). "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on them." (John 3:31-36) The word of the Lord!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

John:22-30 Ego or Joy in Christ?

John 3:22-30 NIV
John the Baptist has been a major player until now; until Jesus shows up on the scene. But, there is no jealousy between John and Jesus. John knows full well who the Messiah is and it is not John. John has come only to point the way to the Messiah. The Messiah has come and rather than jealousy, John is filled with joy. He is satisfied with becoming less as Jesus becomes known to all people.

And, so it is with us. In order for Christ to live more fully in and through us; we must become less. Our own egos must die so that the Christ may live and minister more fully in and through us.

Come, Lord Jesus, so that our joy in you might be complete.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

John 3:1-21 Jesus is the Light that Gives Eternal Life

John 3:1-21 NIV
Today, in our reading, we have one of the most well known scripture verses: John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

I have a few friends who are non-Trinitarian. I remember one of them asking me what my favorite scripture was. At the time it was John 3:16. She was totally aghast. Her reply was something like: "I should have known." You see, there is something in John 3:16 that I had never thought about and in fact I still do not see how it means what she thought it meant. She felt we (Trinitarians) use it to justify our belief in the Trinity. I had never thought about it that way. I saw and still see John 3:16 as a  reminder that God was willing to give his only begotten Son for us and as a promise that all who believe in His Son will have eternal light.

The light has come into the world. The light is Jesus the Christ. Those who receive the light will inherit eternal life.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, July 21, 2014

John 2:13-23 Zeal For Our Father's House

John 2:13-23 NIV
Zeal for our Father's house should help us to refrain from allowing it to become a place for personal gain. Today, that goes not only for the sanctuary made of brick and mortar or wood and steel. On the third day, the temple, which is His Body, was raised from the dead. You and I, all who believe are members of His Body, a Holy Temple. May God help us to not use that temple for our own personal gain; but, grant that all that we say and do should glorify Him.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, July 20, 2014

John 2:1-12 Celebrate Life

John 2:1-12 NIV
I find it quite interesting that the first recorded miracle, in the Gospel of John, that Jesus performed was changing water into wine at a wedding celebration. There, of course, were many others. But, here is a reminder that God came down to live with humankind so that we might live life. He helps to celebrate the union of this couple. He is there to help them live life, even in that moment.

May God help us all to learn to enjoy and celebrate the many gifts He has given us, even here on earth.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, July 19, 2014

John 1:43-50 - Meeting God

John 1:43-50 NIV
"Follow me." Philip heard these words from Jesus and followed him. That was that. Philip then told Nathanael about Jesus. Nathanael went to meet this Jesus. He, too, ended up  following Jesus.

When I was a little child, I knew God the Father. I remember being received into God's family through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. I was about five years old. And... yes, I knew Him as my Father. He loved and He protected me. When I was lonely or afraid He would hold me in His hands. As I grew older, there were many who introduced and re-introduced me to Jesus. I was in my 20's before I really came to know Jesus as my Savior, as my God. But, God is more than Father and Son. He is also Spirit. I was in my 30's when two men who I worked with attempted to teach me who this third person of the Trinity was. They taught me during our lunch hours. But, I was stubborn and I did not know this person until the Holy Spirit decided to be introduced to me. That was an awesome day! I will not ever forget it! My own pastor, Gary Fisher, thought that maybe I was losing it; but, finally connected me with Renewal in Missouri (RIM).

Often, in the Lutheran Church, we neglect to teach about the person of the Holy Spirit. We teach and preach about God the Father and God the Son. But, we stop there. Yes, we mention the Holy Spirit just about every Sunday. But, we rarely teach anyone that we can have a relationship with the third person of the Trinity in the same way that we are in relationship with the Father and Son. Are they not one God? Then why is this third person of the Trinity so often pushed back to third place? Do we not confess in the Athanasian Creed:  "And in this Trinity none is before or after other; none is greater or less than another; But the whole three Persons are coeternal together, and coequal: so that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped."

But, I have taken a major side-track this morning. Maybe it is because some of you don't know God as Father or Jesus as the Son of God, your Savior. Maybe you are not in a real relationship with God. Maybe, some of you have not been introduced to the Holy Spirit. Ask and it shall be given to you. Knock and the door will be opened. To those who do know God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; introduce your neighbor to our God so that they too may follow Jesus into our Father's home by the power of the Holy Spirit.

God's Peace - Pr. J

P.S. This is a blog... so I have kept it as short as I can. Those of you who have questions (hopefully, it has left you with questions), feel free to message me, my contact info is somewhere on these pages.

Friday, July 18, 2014

John 1:29-42

John 1:29-42 NIV
"Look, the Lamb of God!"

Twice, John see Jesus' and witnesses to those around him that Jesus is the Lamb of God. He testifies that Jesus is God's Chosen One. Because of John's testimony Andrew and his brother Simon Peter became followers Jesus. They became his disciples.

Have you told anyone about the "Lamb of God" lately? How many disciples can say it was your testimony that pointed them to Jesus? Remember the "Great Commission"?

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of  the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (John 21:19-20)

Go and witness to the love of God in Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Go and witness to what He has done for us in giving His life for us. Go and make disciples for surely the "Lamb of God" the great "I AM" is with you always.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, July 17, 2014

John 1:6-28 John's Witness

John 1:6-28 NIV
As I live in a land and a time where egos reign, I often think about the faithfulness of St. John the Baptist. His mission was to be a witness to testify to the light that was coming into the dark world. That light was Jesus Christ. John was a humble man. That's not to say he was timid; rather he was quite bold in his proclamation and did not worry who might not like to hear his words. He did not brag about himself. He did not worry about his daily or his future needs; after all, he was a wandering missionary, whose meals came from the wild and whose only clothes were made of camel hair. His only concern was to announce the coming of the Savior into the world.

May God help us all to remember that our main concern is (or should be) the proclamation of the Kingdom through Jesus Christ our LORD, which was purchased for you by the shedding of his blood.

God's Peace - Pr. J

P.S. A reminder that I hope you are reading the Scriptures that this blog is linked to... That is; after all, the purpose of this blog to help you read through the Scriptures on a daily basis.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

John 1:1-5 The Word is God

John 1:1-5 NIV

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

Most of us don't have good enough memories to memorize the whole Bible. There are many favorite verses that people remember. John 1:1 is one I hope that if you don't know it, you will remember because it reminds us that Jesus is not a separate god from God the Father. He and the Father are one. Over the years, I have had more than one discussion with non-Trinitarians regarding the oneness of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. These opening verses of John 1 give heartache and headache to those who say they believe in Jesus Christ; yet, deny his deity. (Since it refers back to creation, take a moment to also contemplate what it means for the Spirit to have also been present, hovering over the waters. (Gen 1:1-2))

Let me repeat verse 1: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." 

Jesus the Christ is the Word. He is true God. He is the light of the world.

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Luke 24:50-53 Ascend

Luke 24:50-53 NIV
We come to the end of the Gospel of St. Luke. The Good News culminates with Jesus blessing his followers and ascending into heaven in full view of the disciples. What did they do after Jesus disappears from their sight? They rejoiced. They worshipped him. They went to the temple praising God. What a fit way to respond to the end of yet another chapter in the story. What a marvelous way to respond to the end of yet another leg of their journey. But, even as one leg of the journey may be over, another begins. Every journey has it's ups and downs. The disciples will encounter much persecution as they continue their journey following in the footsteps of Jesus; proclaiming the Good News. But, they will be prepared. They know that God has a good plan and a good purpose. After all, they have seen the resurrected Jesus rise into the Kingdom of God. He has taken his place as King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, and we can all know that this Prince of Peace is with us, no matter what happens, even to the end of the age. In this we rejoice and give thanks to God.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, July 14, 2014

Luke 24:36-49 Jesus Is Not A Ghost; He Lives!

Luke 24:36-49 NIV
A young friend of mine affirms that she does not believe in Jesus Christ. She does not believe that he rose from the dead for her. Yet, she believes in ghosts. You know those things that go bump in the night to plague the living. On the one hand she will say there is no resurrection and in the next breath she will be talking about some haunting; worried about some ghost. I'm afraid I don't quite get why anyone would be afraid of the dead. After all, we have a living God; a God so almighty that he can make dead bones rise and walk; so almighty that he can resurrect the dead.

The disciples were frightened when they suddenly found Jesus standing among them. They thought he was some kind of ghost. After all, hadn't he died on the cross and hadn't he been laid in that tomb? But, ghosts are not reputed to eat. So he displays his physical resurrection by eating fish that they have prepared.

Jesus is not a ghost. He is not dead. Jesus lives!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Luke 24:13-35 Come And Eat That Your Eyes May Be Opened

Luke 24:13-35 NIV
I recently attended my class reunion. It had been decades since I have seen some of my former classmates. I had no idea who some of them were even though I have talked to them on the phone or communicated with them through messaging on the internet. Some of us had changed more than just a little bit. Many of us, no longer even had the same hair color. But by the time supper, a pot-luck picnic, was shared by all, I recognized them all.

On the way to Emmaus two of Jesus followers were joined by Jesus. They did not recognize him. They discussed the death and resurrection of Jesus. Yet, they still did not recognize him. It was not 'till they invited him to dinner and he broke bread with them that their eyes were opened to who he was.

Sometimes, it takes more than words; sometimes, it takes deeds; sometimes, it requires us to gather together and break bread together.

Come and eat, that your eyes may be opened. The table is prepared.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Luke 24:1-12 Fools Speaking Nonsense

Luke 24:1-12 NIV
The women saw the empty tomb, they heard the words of the angels, they believed, and they told the disciples what the two men had told them: "He is not here; he has risen!" (vs 6) But, the disciples would not believe these women. The things that the women were telling them sounded like nonsense.

There are times when I tell the story of Jesus' resurrection and the promise of our resurrection that I feel like I'm being taken as seriously as a silly old woman who talks nonsense. In fact, I've been told as much on a few rare occasions. Of course, I am not sure how often people who think that the resurrection of Jesus is a fairy tale don't actually admit it to me.

Thomas would not believe the women. He would not even believe the other disciples until he actually saw Jesus with his own eyes. You and I don't have the luxury of being able to see Jesus as the followers of Jesus immediately after his resurrection. But, be assured, blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. (John 20:29)

As for me, I would much rather be a fool for Christ (1 Cor 4:10) than living my life without hope. How about you? Afraid of being taken for a fool who speaks nonsense? Afraid to tell the truth? He is risen!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, July 11, 2014

Luke 23:50-56 - Burial Traditions

Luke 23:50-56 NIV
People of every time and place have had their own traditions or rites for burial of a body. In 480 BC, King Leonidas and 300 of his men stood in a mountain pass, stripped naked, cleansing themselves, and anointing themselves with oil. The Greeks were preparing their bodies for death as the 300 of them, along with some 700 Thespians and 900 Helots, were about to be attacked by the Persian Army, which, according to Herodotus, was 2 million strong. Death was inevitable for Leonidas and his troops. Their bodies would probably never be recovered by family or friends to be properly buried so they prepared their own bodies for death prior to the battle.

The death of Jesus came fast. No one could have expected it; after all, not even a week before the people were celebrating as he triumphantly entered the city. Mary anointed his feet with oil in that last week. The disciples, particularly Judas who betrayed him, complained about the waste. But, Jesus had told them:  "Leave her alone. It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial." (John 12:7)

Jesus died in the afternoon and the body had to be taken away before the sun set as the Sabbath began then. No one had planned for his death. There certainly had been no time to prepare for it. What to do? Where to place the body? What could his mother, a mere woman who had just seen her beloved son executed, do at such a time like this? What about the disciples? Had they already gone into hiding? So, Joseph, a member of the council, who had hope in the Kingdom of God, asked Pilate for permission to take Jesus' body off of the cross. He wrapped it in linens and placed it in a tomb that had never been used before.

Today our traditions vary. Traditions have been created out of love and respect for those who have died. Often, we've figured out the where, who, what years before our own death with pre-paid funeral plans. We now have embalming rather than anointing with spices and oils. Many Christians are opting for cremation. I am often asked about whether cremation is even something a Christian should even consider as we anticipate a resurrection from the grave. My response is that these old traditions are just that - traditions. We are saved by faith, our manner of burial will not matter. And... since God created us once from the dust of the earth; He can certainly bring us back from the dust, again.

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Luke 23:44-49 The Torn Curtain

Luke 23:44-49 NIV

Rip! The sound of the temple curtain being torn in two. Do you recall how St. Mark described what happened after Jesus' baptism? "Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove." (Mark 1:9) So what exactly is the significance of the temple curtain being torn in two at Jesus' death?

I was taught, as a child, that it meant that we now all have direct access to God. We are free to directly communicate and relate with and to God. The High Priests are no longer needed to stand between us and God. As Jesus died on the cross for us, he freed us from our sins so that we are worthy to come before God. That is good news.

But, I believe there is more to it than that. When a door is open it is open to everything and everyone on both sides of the door. We are free to enter and that which was closed in on the other side is also now able to leave.

Behind the temple curtain was the Holy of Holies; God's earthy dwelling place. The tearing of the temple curtain signifies that with Christ's death God's dwelling place on earth was no longer contained to a specific place. His dwelling place; his Kingdom, rushed out into the world as Jesus breathed his last breath.

The Kingdom of God is truly at hand. Live in it!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Luke 23:32-43 Criminal Saved By Faith

Luke 23:32-43 NIV
"Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise." (vs 43)  
Whenever I hear or read this promise of paradise to the criminal, I smile. It is such good news! The criminal hanging on a cross next to Jesus asks Jesus to remember him when he comes into His Kingdom. The criminal knows that Jesus is about to die. He knows and acknowledges that he is a sinful man and deserves the punishment he will receive in this world; that is death in this world. Yet, his request of Jesus to remember him when he comes into his kingdom testifies to his faith in the Kingdom of God where Jesus will reign. And... Jesus comforts him by assuring him that he will enter into paradise.

Thanks be to God! All who believe, who trust in him, will enter into paradise; into His Kingdom. It doesn't matter what you have done or what you have left undone. By faith, your sins are forgiven. The promised paradise is received and entered into by faith that we are forgiven our sins and welcomed in the home of our Father, through the sacrifice of Jesus for us, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

By faith in Jesus the Christ you have been saved!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Luke 23:26-31 Take Up Their Cross

Luke 23:26-31 NIV
"Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children." (vs 28)

Life is tough! What makes it even sadder, at times, is that some don't seem to have enough of a clue about the reality of what is going on in their children's life to even weep for them. They are just too busy to be able to notice what is going on. They do not comprehend what the children are going through and have even less of a clue how to help them.

A part of the solution can be found in today's reading. Simon Cyrene was compelled to carry the cross for Jesus. Do you love your children, your neighbor, your spouse enough to help carry the load when they are stumbling under the weight of it? This is not about covering up their sins for them. It is about setting aside your own desires (not by compulsion; but, out of love) so that you have the time and the energy to help others carry their cross. It is about teaching the way in which they should go and then and only then will they know real peace. And... the way is the way of the cross. Show them that your love for them is so great that you would carry their cross for them and they will, in time, have the courage and strength to do the same for others.

Life is tough. But, it doesn't have to be as tough as it is, at times. Help carry your loved one's (and even your enemies) cross and make their load a little lighter.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, July 7, 2014

Luke 23:1-25 Bowing to the Crowds or Standing Up for Jesus

Luke 23:1-25 NIV
Seems like just about everyone wanted Jesus dead. Well, probably not everyone; but, our reading does say the whole assembly. Everyone wanted him dead, except for Pilate. He wasn't real thrilled with executing an innocent man. He tried to hand him over to Herod and get Herod to do the deed. That didn't work. Pilate gave the people the choice of executing Jesus or the murdered Barabbas. The people chose to let Barabbas free and have Jesus crucified. Pilate didn't want a riot on his hands so he bowed to the assembly's desires and ordered the execution of an innocent man.

How often do we go along with the crowd simply because we don't want to take a stand alone? Will you stand up for Jesus or will you bow down to the desires of humankind?

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Luke 22 - Drop The Drama And Live In Peace

Luke 22:54-71 NIV
I was up very early this morning praying. There are days when one can't help but wonder what this world is coming to. There are days when it seems that no one cares for anyone else; for the right of others to live in peace (without the drama). There appears to be no room in their lives for anyone else unless it is going to be beneficial for them. There are many who are mocked and persecuted for no other reason than someone thinks they can mock and persecute others. It is a tragedy that there is so much trouble in this world just because people want to live in the drama and do not care what trouble they might be bringing upon others as well as themselves.

Jesus was mocked and persecuted. His friend and disciple, Judas has just betrayed him. His friend and disciple, Peter, disowns him to protect his own skin. The guards, for no better reason than they can, mock him. The chief priests and teachers of the law relentlessly question Jesus to try to coerce him into confessing that he broke the law.

Jesus was getting it from all sides. Remember his words from John 15:18-20a: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also."

Even though, others may choose drama over the abundant life; even though others may persecute those who don't benefit them personally; the disciples (followers) of Jesus don't have to join in the melee. We can (and are empowered by the Spirit of Christ) to follow in his footsteps of Jesus, loving our neighbors and doing all that we can to promote peace among people; peace among nations.

God's Peace - Pr. J
P.S. Peace is far better than drama. Shut off the video games, soap operas, and any other garbage that might be twisting your thinking and promoting the negative drama in your lives.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Luke 22:47-53 Betrayed By A Friend

Luke 22:47-53 NIV
Jesus was betrayed when a disciple, a friend, kissed him. It is sad to think about; but, how often do friends betray friends? Under the cover of darkness, a friend is betrayed. Under the cover of darkness, darkness reigns.  It is difficult to know who will betray you. It is difficult when you are betrayed by someone who has at least pretended to be your friend or maybe they are even a member of your own family. It is most difficult when you realize that the relationship has not been about concern for you or your relationship with them; but, about concern to protect or prosper themselves. Whatever the reason; it is difficult when one finds out that the love and concern you perceived has been a lie all along.

Jesus knew all along that Judas would betray him. Yet, he did nothing about it. He knew that his betrayal had a good purpose in the end. The good purpose was worked through a trial, suffering and death. But, in the end, we can see that the betrayal played a huge part in God's blessing of all people.

When betrayed or persecuted, be not afraid. God is with you. He can turn the worst circumstances into a blessing for you and for others.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, July 4, 2014

Luke 22:39-46 Wake and Pray

Luke 22:39-46 NIV
I remember a prayer vigil years ago that began following Worship on Maundy Thursday and ended Good Friday at Worship. At least one person was signed up to be in the sanctuary every hour praying. No one signed up for the hours from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. so I took those hours. I probably didn't last an hour. I woke up a little after 6 a.m., on my knees, leaning against the baptismal font. The first thing I saw when I opened my eyes were Ken and Anita L., on their knees, praying, at the altar rail. They had not disturbed me. When they saw me sleeping, they just walked around me to pray. Now, Jesus, on the other hand had something to say to his disciples about sleeping while they should have been praying. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” (vs 46)

What a lesson for me! I could not stay awake for those three hours. Sleep was too great a temptation. Pray that we may not fall into temptation and may God help us sleepers to rise and wake up from the dead. (See Eph 5:14).

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Luke 22:7-38 Eat at His Table

Luke 22:7-38 NIV
Jesus ate his last meal with his disciples on the night in which he was betrayed by one of them. They discussed many things over this meal just as any normal family might. He gave them direction. He gave them warnings. He gave them hope.

All would not be easy, but no matter what might befall them they (and us) are to remember his promise that all who follow him will eat at His table in the Kingdom conferred upon Him by the Father. We are invited to partake in a foretaste of this feast to come even as we are invited to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion often.

May God open your heart and mind to receiving the Kingdom as you partake of this Holy meal at His table often.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Luke 22:1-6 Too Many Witnesses

Luke 22:1-6 NIV
Yep, the less witnesses the better if you're planning on doing something that Satan is encouraging you to do. That would be the way to go. The chief priests, the teachers of the law, even Judas did not want too many witnesses for about what they were about to do to Jesus. They wanted to get rid of Jesus, but the people loved him. They didn't want the people turning against them, So, they needed a plan on how to get rid of him without anyone figuring out that they were setting him up.

The moral of the story: Beware of joining any group that thinks the way to do things is to get rid of their enemies when there are no witnesses.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Luke 21:5-38 - Temple of God

Luke 21:5-38 NIV
Jesus predicted the fall of the temple in Jerusalem. It happened even during the life of many of those whom he was speaking to. The end had come for the great and beautiful temple.

But, we have a more beautiful temple. It is not made with beautiful stones and other various gifts dedicated to God. It is made by God, Himself. St. Paul wrote that we are the temple of God: "Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple." (1 Cor 3:16-17)

Together, we are the temple of God with Christ as our cornerstone; with Christ as the one who has built us up. What can be more beautiful than the one who has built this temple; the one who fills this temple? The things that are beautiful to the eyes of the world are nothing in comparison to the relationship we have with our Father, through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. True beauty lies in that relationship. True beauty lies in the love and gifts of God. For those who live in that love, there is nothing to fear. No matter what happens, we have no need to fear an end time for we have been promised an eternity in the presence of God.

God's Peace - Pr. J