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“Hope of the Church”

John 17: 21: “… that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that You sent Me.” Some of God’s promises only come into effect in the midst of unity (Psalm 133: 1; Matthew 18: 19, 20). That’s bad news because, my goodness, just look at us! Will unity ever happen? Could we, the Church, ever possibly be one? Believe it or not, it’s guaranteed – because Jesus Himself prayed for the Father to make us one, so that the whole world would believe in Him. That’s something else that seems far from reality, but as we become one in answer to Christ’s prayer our evangelism will be more effective, and that is the hope of the

What is the hope of the weary?

Psalm 6: 8b, 9: “For the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication, the Lord receives my prayer.” We all go through pain that is genuine, sorrow that is legit, and weariness that is oppressive. Sometimes we’re just sick and tired of waking up so sick and tired. Here, David says he’s been crying so much that he melted his couch. That’s a lotta tears. But the good news? When we pray in these situations, God hears. `Nuff said. He receives our prayer when no one else can, and that is the hope of the weary!

What is the hope of the nation?

Daniel 1: 19: “And the King talked with them, and out of them all not one was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; so they entered the king’s personal service.” These guys were in the midst of the cream of the crop, the best of the best (vv. 3, 4), but even in this elite company Daniel and his three friends stood out. It takes the same commitment seen in them, but the Lord is making dedicated young people among us into Daniels, and that is the hope of our nation!

THE IMPOSSIBILITIES OF OUR LIVES

It’s the evening of Easter. The disciples are gathered in a room. The doors are locked. It’s impossible for someone to get in. They’ve made sure of that. Then the impossible happened. Jesus showed up! He’s not dead! He’s alive! He “came and stood among them” (John 20:19, 26). He breathed peace upon them. That didn’t happen just once, it happened twice; Jesus stepping into that room of frightened disciples hiding behind their locked doors of impossibility. But that that kind of thing is happening all the time. It is as much a part of our lives as it was part of the disciples’? Every impossibility of our lives that is realized is an experience of resurrection. Each one is a time when Jesus ste

Second Sunday of Easter: New Faith

Acts 5:27-32 Psalm 111 Revelations 1:4-8 John 20:19-31 Every year, the gospel for the second Sunday of Easter does not change, that is, John 20:19-31. The scene is a locked room where the disciples are hiding in fear and hopeless. The hope of the kingdom of .God coming through Jesus Christ has been shattered. It all ended in total disaster and everything went wrong in the worst way possible. The disciples were in fear that the Jews would arrest them because they were with Jesus and they would be executed. The Jews were supposed to be their brothers, so it is a worst kind of fear even for family or for brothers. The disciples were probably anxious, too, because they abandoned their Lord. J

“Resurrection of Joy”

John 16: 20: “Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned to joy.” Happiness is a fragile thing; the wrong circumstances, the wrong words, can squelch it forever. But the gift of God is much deeper, the gift of God is joy. And even if our irresponsible stewardship over this gift can lead to its death, it need not be permanent, for Jesus promises to resurrect it. Indeed He is risen, and He is the first of many!

“Resurrection of Health”

Acts 4: 10: “Let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that by the Name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, Whom you crucified, Whom God raised from the dead – by this Name this man stands before you in good health.” To be lame in first century Palestine was, in some ways, worse than death – living from alm to alm, subjected to beggar’s cartels, bound in spirit and body. But the same Nazarene Whom God raised from the dead resurrected this man who had lived a life of death for over forty years (Acts 3: 2; 4: 22). How? God raised Him first, and He is the first of many!

“Resurrection of Righteousness”

Acts 3: 26: “For you first, God raised up His Servant, and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.” To the same Israelites who had been resurrected from the Red Sea and the Babylonian exile, St. Peter promises an even greater resurrection: A turning from their sins, into the blessings of eternal life. Micah was telling his listeners that Jesus Christ would rise, and He is the first of many!

“Resurrection of Light”

Micah 7: 8: “Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me.” Among the many Old Testament allusions to the resurrection of Christ is this prophecy from Micah. It seems to progress the progression of the spiritual sickness and eventual death of both Israel and Judah, but it speaks much more: the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord. Micah was telling his listeners that Christ is risen, and He is the first of many!

“Resurrection of Freedom”

Psalm 114: 3, 5: “The sea looked and fled; the Jordan turned back. What ails you, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back?” The exodus of the Israelites from Egypt began inauspiciously – scarcely were they out of the land of Goshen when they had Pharaoh’s army behind them, and the briny deep before them – caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Again, as good as dead. And again, no problem for God, Who rescued His people from the sea, while not extending the same courtesy toward the Egyptians. This became the prototypical example of resurrection, possibly becauseChrist is risen, and He is the first of many!

“Resurrection of Life”

Jonah 2: 6: “I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, but You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God.” In biblical symbolism the sea can be a metaphor for hell. After all, you can’t get any closer to the pit (the underworld) than the bottom of the ocean; and as Jonah had been thrown overboard, he was as good as dead. But even though his condition seemed to be ‘forever’ – NOT! Christ is risen, and He is the first of many! (1 Corinthians 15: 20)

Easter Sunday: "New Life"

Acts 10:34-43 Psalm 118:14-29 1 Corinthians 15:19-26 Luke 24:1-12 Hallelujah! Christ is risen! Do we know the implication of this that Christ is risen from the dead? We can grasp the whole meaning of it, run with it, and walk in it in victory. The Cross represents the farthest extent that God would go. The song says, “Even if we have strayed away, His love has sought me out and found me.” From the darkness corners of the human condition and the worst of the human experience, Jesus suffered and experienced them. He became man so that He can experience what we go through and suffer with us. What Jesus did in experiencing what we went through doesn’t end there. He not only died and sacrif

Easter Sunday: "New Life"

Hallelujah! Christ is Risen! Just what does that statement mean? At funerals, Isaiah 25:6-9 is always read. It is a passage of hope. Our blessed hope is resurrection from the dead. “We believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting” (Apostle’s Creed) because we will spend eternal life in a resurrected body. Christ is risen and is the first fruits of those who have died. As in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. I think many theologians have made original sin a bigger deal than it truthfully is. What about the original goodness of God’s creation? His indelible image in us? And the fact that God is making all things new? God never discards what is precious

“Famous or Infamous?”

Matthew 27: 65: “Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard; go, make [the grave] as secure as you know how.’” Pilate was probably thinking, “This will make me famous! I have averted a bloody riot. Caesar will love me for this!” Well, handing Jesus over to the Jews for crucifixion did make Pilate famous. In fact, he and Mary are the only non-Deity mentioned in the Creed. Thousands of time a day it is said in any of the many Creeds of the Church, “Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate.” As with the Pharisees, Judas, and the detractors of Jeremiah or Paul, when he thought he had achieved his aims, he had, in fact, achieved infamy. Again we see: The Lord is near to those who fear Him, wh

“One Life to Live”

Psalm 22: 20: “Deliver my soul from the sword, my only life from the power of the dog.” Let us use this Good Friday psalm to remind us of a great truth of the Gospel: Jesus, and we, have only one life. This verse concerning Christ and John 10: 18 (I lay down My life on my own initiative, and I have the authority to take it up again), spoken by Christ, reject any notion of reincarnation. Christ’s one life was resurrected in the tomb as ours is at baptism, but the resurrected life is the same life we were given in the womb at conception, just amped up. And oh yes, that one life is delivered by God from the sword and the power of the dog. That’s why it’s called Good Friday!

Maundy Thursday: “Walking in Love Through Sacrificial Service”

This is Maundy Thursday. Maundy comes from the word mandate. Jesus, who was facing death, gave His disciples, representing the Church, two instructions as if to give His last will and testament. The first instruction was: observe the Eucharist; and the second one: love one another. Jesus said, “I will build My church.” He did not say, “Build Me a mega-church.” He said to observe the Eucharist and love one another, and this is how He will build His church. The Eucharist is a sacrament, a visible grace. The song says, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” It is not something earned, but something God gives that we accept by faith through grace, not by underst

“Eat!”

Psalm 102: 4, 9: “My heart has been smitten like grass and has withered away. Indeed, I forget to eat my bread … for I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping.” Why is this the Psalm for Maundy Thursday, the day which marks the institution of the Eucharist? Because it reminds us of what happens with we ignore the sacrament. In times past the Church has discouraged participation in the Lord’s Table, or when it was celebrated, it was in a melancholy, mournful, oppressive fashion. This led to the woes recorded in this psalm. Today let us celebrate the sacrament with joy, even on this sober occasion, for the promise it contains: freedom and continuity (vv. 20, 28).

“Near”

Philippians 4: 5: “Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.” Traditionally Holy Wednesday was the time that Judas Iscariot made his deal with the Pharisees and chief priests to betray Jesus. He who had been pinching denarii from the money box for years thought his forty-silver-piece ship had come in - but he learned differently within twenty-four hours. And how did Jesus, who knew all this before it happened, handle it? With forbearance. He fed Judas at the Last Supper, even washed his feet. How could he do that? Because He knew one transcendent fact: The Lord is near. This is how He, and Jeremiah, and we, can have that forbearing spirit St. Paul calls for, w

“Wall of Bronze”

Jeremiah 15: 20: “’Then I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; and though they fight against you, they will not prevail over you; for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the Lord.’” Jeremiah received this word personally for himself, but it was ultimately about the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Although Holy Week saw the Pharisee’s and High Priest’s fight against Him achieve its end, or so they thought, it actually propelled Him to the Father’s right hand as the One Who shattered their pretentious world and brought judgment upon them. And if you are in a place in your life similar to this, standing for truth in the midst of a band of liars, know that God will

“In the Loop”

John 12: 16: “These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him.” The Hosannas, the palm branches, the donkey: it seems like everyone knew what was going on – except Jesus’ disciples, because they were doing it for their own glory, and not His. While they were thinking, “The King is here, bring out the twelve thrones!” God was doing His work His way. What they thought was a dream come true was about to turn into their worst nightmare, and they never saw it coming. It is only when are committed to God’s work, God’s way, for His glory, that we can

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