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“Does ‘All Saints’ Include You?”

Psalm 149: 4: “For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.” On this Feast of All Saints we remember, in the Gospel and other readings, how the true saints of God suffered various afflictions. But we also remember their rewards—God’s deliverance and salvation; and as this verse reminds us, these things are for all his people. No wonder the psalm begins with “Praise the Lord!” Or, better said, “Hallelujah!”

“Lamb’s Got Game”

Revelation 5: 13: “And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, ‘To Him Who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.’” On Tuesday we saw how all the nations of the earth are under the dominion of one God. When we call that universalism, it scares some people out of their wits. But as was said then, there’s more to the picture – and here it is. All creation everywhere offers praise to the One on the Throne – AND to the Lamb! Any picture of dominion is incomplete unless it includes the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Trin

“Word!”

Matthew 13: 19: “When anyone hears the word of the Kingdom, and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.” The word of the Kingdom (a phrase only Matthew uses in describing this parable) is more than just “Jesus loves you, get saved.” That’s a great word, but the word of the Kingdom is more. It requires new birth of water and spirit (John 3: 3, 5) to understand and walk in it. The word of the Kingdom involves knowing and following Christ as King. No wonder the evil one wants to snatch it; when enough people walk around with that in their hearts, he’s in trouble!

“Going Green”

Revelation 4: 3: “And He Who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance.” Jasper and sardius were gems in the breastplate of the High Priest, thus tying the One upon the throne with the God of Israel. The rainbow is a special creation of God denoting Covenant with man; yet instead of many colors there is one color—Green, the color of life. This shows us that all the nations of the earth are under the dominion of the one God, and under Him alone do they all come together in life. But there’s more to this picture!

“Holy Tag Team”

Zechariah 1: 16: “Therefore, thus says the Lord, ‘I will return to Jerusalem with compassion; My house will be built in it,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘and a measuring line will be stretched over Jerusalem.’” It is all too common for believers to think that their personal favorite prophet is the only one with the word of the Lord, and equally common for such prophets to think that these folks are correct. But during the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple God raised up Zechariah, Haggai, Ezra, and numerous others to minister to His people the message of His favor. Remember Elijah and the phantom seven thousand (1 Kings 19: 18)? Be sure, the Lord is not limited to the massively visible f

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time: “Walking in Self-enforced Humility”

Jeremiah 14: 17-22 Psalm 84 2 Timothy 4: 6-8; 16-18 Luke 18: 9-14 Today’s gospel is about the Parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. On one hand, the Pharisees were respected for they were pious, religious and many of them were sincere in what they were doing. Some may have been hypocritical but most were sincere, ultra-conservative, and hyper religious. On the other hand, there are the tax collectors. We would easily say that they are corrupt, and they were seen as friends of the enemy – of Rome or the oppressor. They took advantage of their fellow Jews. They hated their fellow tax collectors. It was a standard for them to collect more and enrich themselves so they were viewed

"Walking in Self-enforced Humility"

In a world where ambition often compels people to do whatever it takes to rise to positions of power over others, God calls His people to a new way of living. We come to church each week, listen attentively to scripture, and learn that we should always be humble; just like Jesus Christ our Lord. Humility is impressed upon us by education, work and demands of life. This being the case, I can say that humans are not humble by nature; and our mistakes in this area need to be corrected. Jesus said in our Gospel today, Luke 18:14 “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Our Lord Jesus often used parables to give His message to the people.

“Know It When You Hear It”

Matthew 12: 42: “The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and shall condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.” There is no shortage of truth out there, you know. Yes, there is a superabundance of sheer foolishness and folly around too, but the truth – God’s truth, not Moulder’s and Scully’s – can still be found. The issue is, how often is it recognized? We need more Queens of Sheba today, and far fewer Jezebels and Atheliahs.

“Sweet Devotion”

1 Corinthians 16: 15b: “You know the house of Stephanas, that they were the first fruits of Asia, and that they have devoted themselves for ministry to the saints.” What did the house of Stephanas devote themselves to? Going to Church? Attending meetings? Fellowship suppers? Making new rules and bylaws? Or getting rid of the pastor? No, Stephanas had a rather odd understanding of Church – he was there to minister to the saints! What a concept! Perhaps we should try it sometime.

“Fulfilled Promise”

Ezra 1: 3: “Whoever therefore there is among you of all His people, let His God be with Him! Let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God is Israel; He is the God Who is in Jerusalem.” Recently the MDR has chronicled the rise and fall of Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem. Today begins the story of the restoration. Regardless of the devastation, the carnage, and the exile, one thing stood firm: God had made a promise to Abraham, and to David, even to Eve – and God takes His promises seriously.

“Priorities”

Matthew 12: 12b: “So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” What’s more important; to feed the hungry and heal the hurting, or keep a misunderstood and misapplied law? The Pharisees had their answer; Jesus had His. In time all knew which answer God accepted.

“Virtue in Bloodshed?”

Psalm 26: 9: “Do not take my soul away along with sinners, nor my life with men of bloodshed.” There was a time when you could tell the good guys from the bad guys by the body count – the fewer the bodies, the greater the hero. Some heroes never shot anyone; they just used their marksmanship skills to shoot the weapons out of the baddie’s hands. No more. Just watch any action movie or read any popular action book. Question: could there be a correlation between the spike in bloodlust, both fictional and actual, and the unprecedented bloodshed among the innocent unborn? More than likely.

“Tomorrow We Live”

1 Corinthians 15: 32b: “If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” An astonishing number of Christians no longer believe in the resurrection. But if death still reigns, what is Jesus the Messiah of? What did He deliver us from? Christianity without the resurrection is just a religion; a religion which includes no power to help a believer keep it. Rather than follow such an inutile dogma, might as well let your hair down. But Christ is alive, and the resurrection does empower believers. So control yourself – tomorrow we live!

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time: “Walking in Expectant Prayer”

Genesis 32: 22-30 Psalm 121 2 Timothy 3: 14-4: 5 Luke 18: 1-8a Jesus told His disciples a parable to show that they should pray at all times and not lose heart. Always have faith and confidence in God who answers our prayers. Faith is not magic or applying a formula and getting a result. Faith is not mind over matter or telekinis. Faith is not merely positive thinking and the gauge of faith is not a positive or negative result. What we are encouraged to do is to be persistent in prayer. Sometimes, we have this formula to be so positive in our thinking and we equate it to faith such that if what we prayed for happens, then, we do have faith. If it doesn’t happen, then, we lack faith.

“Walking in Expectant Prayer”

In our gospel reading today, Jesus strongly encourage us to constantly pray and remain steadfast in our faith until He comes. “If even an evil judge can be worn down,” the Lord said, “don’t you think that God will surely give justice to his people who plead with him day and night? Yes! He will answer them quickly! But the question is: When I, the Messiah, return, how many will I find who have faith and are praying?” Luke 18:2-8 (TLB) As believers and followers of Christ, our question is: When Jesus comes, will He find us trusting him, or busy with the ordinary pressures of our daily lives? How can we endure until the end with many persistent temptations making us insensitive to God’s Kingd

“Clean Sweep”

2 Kings 25: 12, 26: “But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the guard to be vinedressers and plowmen … Then all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the forces arose and went to Egypt; for they were afraid of the Chaldeans.” Five hundred years after it had begun, it was finished. The entering, possessing, and losing of the Promised Land, an act more momentous than we could ever realize, was complete. Every glorious promise and solemn warning of the Pentateuch was fulfilled; and the holy city chosen by God, once so vibrant and alive, was now totally deserted. Built by obedience and decimated by disobedience, adorned with holiness then festered with unrigh

“The Importance of Appearance”

1 Corinthians 15: 3-8: “For I delivered to you as of first importance ... that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve, and after that He appeared to more than five hundred … then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles … then He appeared to me also.” One of the foremost qualifications of an apostle of Christ, of first importance, was this: The resurrected Christ had to have appeared to them. It’s no different today. Before you dare stand in the stead of Christ, you must have seen the face of Christ in all His glory and humility, in all His power and compassion. It is of first importance. Has He appeared to you?

“Rare Blessing”

Matthew 10: 42: “And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you he shall not lose his reward.” Before you conclude that this is talking about a cheap reward, consider this: If you wanted cold water in 30 A.D., you didn’t just run to the ref, nor to the nearest iceberg, or even to the local 7-11. All non-existent in Judea at that time. To find cold water and keep it cold until you delivered it was a major undertaking, one that guaranteed the receiving of one’s own particular blessing. So chill!

“The Big Reveal”

Matthew 10: 26: “Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.” The way some folks act, you’d think they have never read this scripture. They pull stunts they would never try if they thought anyone would ever find out. But amidst all the wonderful, exciting promises of God is this one, that someday all the facts of every nefarious situation will be revealed – by God Himself – and the audience will not be small. You may get away with your schemes for now, but not forever!

“Enter with Caution”

Psalm 5: 7: “But as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness I will enter Your house, at Your holy temple I will bow in reverence for You.” Do you bow before entering the Church sanctuary? David did. He knew that he really, really, really didn’t belong there on his own, and without God’s mercy he’d be zapped like a French fry if he tried. The thought humbled him to the point of contrition. Sometimes he could get wild and free once he got inside, but not without some serious humility first.

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