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“God Gets Around”

Psalm 113: 5, 6: “Who is like the Lord our God, Who is enthroned on high, Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth?” Let us never take for granted the awesome truth, made so last clear last month in Christmas as well as tomorrow in the Feast of the Presentation: The transcendent, omnipotent God is above the heavens, yet dwells with His people on earth, empowering us as princes. The psalmist, and we, could have only one response to this greatness of God – Hallelujah!

“Not Mere Deliverance”

Hebrews 11: 31: “By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.” What did Rahab the harlot receive for her great act of faith? Did this Canaanite outside the Covenant simply avoid the fate of the rest of the citizens of Jericho? No, she entered into the promise of the Israelites. It wasn’t just deliverance from wrath, but inclusion in something greater (Joshua 6: 25). This should also be the goal of our faith, as well – not mere escape, but the blessing of a higher walk in life.

“Power of the Oath”

Genesis 21: 18-19: “’Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him by the hand; for I will make a great nation of him.’ Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water; and she went and filled the skin with water, and gave the lad a drink.” Before the Lord told Hagar what lay in store for Ishmael (apparently Abraham said not a word) she was hopeless; she saw no water; she expected them both to die. (vv. 14-16) But the instant she received God’s oath concerning Ishmael and she knew he had a purpose her eyes were opened, and they experienced the Lord’s presence. The key: finding their purpose in God’s promise.

“Seeing is Not Always Believing”

John 6: 26; 36; 40: “You seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves, and were filled … But I said to you, that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe … For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” Seeing signs had no influence on this crowd at all; only the experience of eating affected them. Seeing Him: His power, compassion, and authority, had no effect; it was personal benefit they sought. But the will of God is to believe in Him for Who He is, not what He can do for us. Only such believers will know eternal life, while those who seek only

"Purified in Power"

I’ve heard before that we must trust in God’s ability to speak to us, not in our ability to hear Him. But God says, “give earnest heed, give ear, pay attention, listen, incline your ear, he who has ears let him hear.” He sometimes speaks in parables or lowers the volume so we would make an effort to hear and understand. There’s a responsibility on our part.

AUTHORITY TO SERVE HUMANITY

Jesus and His newly called disciples entered Capernaum. On the Sabbath, Jesus entered the synagogue and began to teach. The people who heard Him were astonished and overwhelmed, “For He taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.” Although Mark does not give us the content of the teaching of Jesus, we can find examples of the differences between Jesus’ teaching and teaching of the scribes elsewhere in the Gospel. Scripture suggest that the scribe’s traditional interpretation was inadequate. Mark noted that the teachings between the two were poles apart. Jesus’ teaching was fresh, new, alive, and empowered so that it struck the people with amazement, while the scribes’ teachin

“Supreme Insult”

Hebrews 10: 29: “How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?” This is one of those verses many of us would like to erase from the Bible because it doesn’t fit our ‘anything goes, God understands’ theology. Bad news – it’s in here, and we have to deal with it. We can focus on the word ‘deserve’ and remind ourselves that God doesn’t give us what we deserve, but you can’t ignore words like ‘trampled,’ ‘unclean,’ and ‘insulted.’ Do you think you can continually insult the Holy Spirit forever and not have it affect you

“God, the Government Work Crew Member?”

Psalm 40: 17: “You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God.” This verse is very amusing. It sounds like those signs in the windshield of government work vehicles, which I translate as, ‘Government Project, Do Not Delay. We can do that without your help.’ But this is the God Who created the world in seven days, the God Who always does things right the first time; and you’re worried that He’ll be slack? I assure you, He’s not! (2 Peter 3: 9)

“Double Message?”

Psalm 60: 1: “O God, You have rejected us, You have broken us.” One hears very often today of God’s persevering faithfulness, His unending mercy, and His changeless love, That’s the Gospel. But what’s this stuff about Him rejecting us and breaking us? Believe it or not, these are two of the ways He shows His faithfulness, mercy, and love. God’s kind intention for us is to be like Him (Ephesians 1). But if he unflinchingly accepts our blatant selfishness or general lack of caring, this validates our movement in the opposite direction. These are the things He rejects and breaks, that we may offer before Him offerings of righteousness and excellence. It is in no way leaving or forsaking

“Have You Heard?”

John 5: 25: “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear shall live.” When Jesus uses the word ‘hour’ here, He doesn’t mean 6: 00 a.m. or 7: 30 p.m. It is a term meaning ‘a specific, set time in which a particular pre-ordained action occurs.’ Now is the time God has ordained for His wayward children to hear His voice. When they do, His life will come to them (Ezekiel 37). Are you helping with that, or hindering?

“Cow vs. Deity”

Hebrews 9: 13, 14: “For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” See the difference: All the Old Testament sacrifices could do was cleanse the outside, the flesh, which was sure to get dirty again. But the sacrifice of Christ works all the way down to the core of the inside (the conscience) and motivates the heart to pure service. That’s why any religion without Jesus Christ at the center is not enough!

“Will Trade Relatives for Booty”

Genesis 14: 11, 12, 21: “Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food supply, and departed. And they also took Lot, Abram’s nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom … And the king of Sodom said to Abram, ‘Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself,’” See how sneaky the king of Sodom was! He wanted the people, who didn’t belong to him (the only captives were Lot and his family), and offered to let Abram keep the spoils in exchange. Maybe Abram was tempted; Lot could be a bit of a tool sometimes. But he knew that people are more important than things, and made the right choice. I think we can see here why each of these men en

3rd Sunday After Epiphany - All Life is Sacred

The Charismatic Episcopal Church celebrates today the Feast of the Lord and Giver of Life and upholds the sanctity of life. Just how sacred is human life to God? “To ransom a slave, You gave away Your Son.” A slave who could not deserve it less, and would never deserve it at all. And God does not change. His mercy endures forever.

"Purified in Humility"

In April 1949 a shocking new musical stormed Broadway. It was called “South Pacific”, and a song from its climax went like this: You've got to be taught to hate and fear You've got to be taught from year to year It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear You've got to be carefully taught You've got to be taught to be afraid Of people whose eyes are oddly made And people whose skin Is a different shade You've got to be carefully taught You've got to be taught before it's too late Before you are 6 or 7 or 8 To hate all the people your relatives hate You've got to be carefully taught Lyricist Oscar Hammerstein III knew what Jesus Christ Himself taught us in today’s Gospel: Child

“Labor by Proxy?”

John 4: 38, 39: “’I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.’ And from that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all the things that I have done.’” Behold the beauty of the Body of Christ! We share in each other’s successes. When one wins, we all win. The woman at the well did the evangelism; the disciples did little more than buy lunch. Yet they entered into her labor. This is also illustrated in the statement of Jesus; “Whoever receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward.” (Matthew 10: 41) Membership in Christ’

“Long Camping Trip!”

Genesis 12: 4, 6: “So Abram went forth as the Lord has spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran … And Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh.” We know that Abraham lived to the age of 175 (Genesis 25: 7), so that means he lived in Canaan for one hundred years. Although he traveled occasionally, especially in the early days, he lived almost all of that time in a tent in Shechem, under the teberinth tree. Yet in that entire century, he never built a house. Why not? Because he did not own the land; it belonged to the Canaanites. It seems he believed in the promise of God that his desce

“Purpose and Promise”

Hebrews 6: 17, 18: “In the same way God, desiring even more to show the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, in order that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us.” What are the two ‘unchangeable things’? Context shows: God’s purpose for us, and His promise to us. It is His purpose that we will receive His promise, and His promise that we will fulfill His purpose. This certainty is pictured by the epistle writer as the two flukes of an anchor that comprise our hope as believers, God’s unchanging purpose and prom

“More or Less”

John 3: 30: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” It seems that every generation discovers this scripture anew, and that is as it should be. “More of Jesus, less of Me” is an ongoing work in the life of the believer, leading to theosis and glorification. It is the result of seeking first the Kingdom, the fruit of dying to self. It is one of those ‘Gospel within a verse’ passages that should, indeed, be in the heart, mind, and lips of every Christian. Is it in yours?

“Taken Away”

Psalm 26: 9; 28: 3: “Do not take away my soul along with sinners, nor my life with men of bloodshed … do not drag me away with the wicked and with those who work iniquity.” Many Christians today are worried over being ‘left behind,’ but David seemed to have the opposite concern. He foresaw a future where the sinners and the wicked would be dragged away, while those of integrity and righteousness would remain. This is the proper interpretation of Matthew 24: 40-41; the one who’s left is the one who’s blessed. It’s the meek who will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5: 5)

“Peace, Brother!”

Genesis 8: 11: “And the dove came to him toward evening; and behold, in her beak was a freshly picked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the water was abated from the earth.” Do you know that a dove with a leaf or a branch in its mouth is a symbol of peace? Do you know why? It’s because of this scripture. After God’s destruction of life on earth, the existence of a living tree showed He was making peace with mankind. And it is a peace that is still in effect today. (v. 21) Perhaps that is why, at His baptism, the Prince of Peace was descended upon by the Holy Spirit in the form of a … dove.

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