Day 26 Romans 8:24-39

HOPE: who hopes for what one sees. The very existence of hope is absurdity – to expect that for which there is insufficient evidence. If we see the Christmas gifts hidden in the bottom of our parent’s closet or under the bed, then we no longer ‘hope’ for a particular gift. We think we know what we will receive. At times when this happened because I’d been snooping on purpose, I punished myself – knowing took most of the fun out of receiving the gift – Once I even played with a toy, unwrapping and rewrapping it in November. All hope was gone, even though the gift still came at Christmas

Predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son. I don’t know what to think about ‘predestination’ but Paul’s theology is certainly consistent here with Eph 4 and the notion of being like Christ.

Paul preaches and teaches with such confidence, aparently either oblivious (not likely) or simply not overly concerned about what others thought of his prayer life – the point was that He was to serve, and that His old life was over, and now Paul was a new creation. What will God need to do in my life (what needs to be removed, what added) for me to experience that kind of confidence, assurance and power from the Holy Spirit. Come, LORD Jesus.

Day 25 Ephesians 4:11-16

The gifts he gave were that:
some would be apostles ~ some prophets,
some evangelists ~ some pastors
and [some] teachers,
[WHY?] –
To equip the saints for the work of ministry
([i.e.] for building up the body of Christ)
Until all of us come:
to unity (of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, )
to maturity (to the measure of the full stature of Christ.)
We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro,
blown about by every wind of doctrine,
by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.
RATHER, speaking the truth in love,
we must grow up in every way
into him who is the head, into Christ,
from whom the whole body, joined and knit together
by every ligament with which it is equipped,
as each part is working properly,
promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

Saints are to be engaged in the work of ministry, and an end or goal is maturity in Christ, until we become like him fully. We do this in part by speaking the truth in love, thus promoting healthy growth of individual believers, and thus of the whole church. (Short term numerical growth, or defense from decline, is never a positive thing if it comes at the cost of truth, at the cost of individual growth and maturity. True congregational health and growth comes out of the health and growth of individuals in the congregation, particularly its pastors and lay leaders. Inherrent in this text are notions of growth and change toward maturity – a process that is often painful whether in our individual lives, families, or organizations we love. We need God’s grace to bring us through these difficult things in one piece/peace.

Be a Disciple – “Be free from worry” – Mt 6:19-34

Sermon for Sunday, 8/26/07

Do not lay up treasure is related to do not worry. the more treasure you have, the more you have to worry about.
If we focus in on v 25 – “Therefore…do not worry…” and v33 & 34 “…seek first the kingdom of God….therefore do not worry…” – I think we get the theme of this passage. Don’t worry. And as with Paul’s writing Phillipians 4:6, we are told not to worry (or be anxious) but we are also told what TO DO. And it is not simply the words of that Bobby McFarrin pop song from the 80s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” If our minds and hearts are strongly inclined in a certain direction, we can not simply turn them off. That is like telling an addict – just don’t think about it. Or the man struggling with lust and pornography – just don’t think about it. This does not work. In fact, the opposite effect can result – the more one dwells on not dwelling on something, well you see what happens. So, what are we left with?
Jesus says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all the things you would have worried about will be taken care of.” Paul says, “…in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God…”
Jesus knows that our hearts follow our money, and vice versa. If you want to train your heart in a certain direction, start sending your money that direction.
And what’s the big deal about the heart? As Jesus uses it here, the Heart is the seat of faith, so what he is saying is this – whatever you invest yourself in is what you place your faith in.

1. Don’t spend time and effort stockpiling stuff – Instead, invest your time and effort in the Kingdom

Because your faith will follow what you treasure.

2. You can not serve wealth and God –

Because your faith will follow what you serve.

3. Worry about stuff is not a sign of a lack of faith – but of a misplaced faith.

Because your faith is reflected in what you think about.

NOTE: Jesus does not tell us that worry is wrong, simply that it is misdirected energy. He is not judging us for worrying, he is inviting us into freedom from worry. Ultimately, regardless of what we might worry about, Jesus is right – worry does not accomplish anything. And in fact, we now know that worry can actually kill you – depressing the immune system, raising blood-pressure, making you prone to all manner of physical and mental illnesses.
Jesus is trying, as always, to save us from our own brokenness by inviting us into service for the Kingdom. Our faith in God expressed as obedience to Jesus’ teachings leads us away from death and into life, both physically and spiritually, in this world and the next.
There is a parallel text in Luke 12, which includes the following:
Luke 12:31 Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. 32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 35 “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36 be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. 39 “But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

And one other note about ministry, which is found in the three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark & Luke – socalled because you can put them together and make a synopsis). When you are called upon to speak for Christ, if you are prayed up and in relationship with Him and under the power of the Spirit, you will not need to worry about what to say – the Holy Spirit will give you the words.
Mt 10:19 – When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time;
Mr 13:11 – When they bring you to trial and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.
Lu 12:11 – When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say;
This can be broadened to any decision for the kingdom and building up of the Body of Christ – if we are prayed up, studied up, and living in the power of the Holy Spirit, then God will give us the direction we need to accomplish His purposes! Don’t worry – just live for Him!

Day 24 Ephesians 3:14-21

A prayer for blessings of encouragement to come from the Father toward those who serve the Son. As one calle to be a Barnabas Coach/Encourager, this is a particularly important text to hold dear. It is a daily reflection and prayer for anyone whose ministry includes encouragment. As Paul is a pastor to the Ephesians, and to all his churches receiving this circular letter, he writes to encourage and to let them know of his prayers on their behalf that they would be encouraged by God. So, Paul prays for them, and he tells them that he prays for them. Encouraging is both praying to God on behalf of another that God would encourage them, and also telling them that you are doing so. Paul’s prayer is that: [they] may be strengthened…with power through his Spirit;… that Christ may dwell in [their] hearts through faith; [that they would be] rooted and grounded in love;…. have the power to comprehend…what is the breadth and length and height and depth…and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge…and be filled with all the fullness of God.
LORD, how can I be an encourager today: to my family, to my friends, to my neighbors, to those you have called me to serve in the church and community? I ask you on their behalf to grant all these blessings tha Paul sought for the Ephesians. And that you would allow me to minister encouragement to them.

Day 23 Philippians 3:7-16

7 Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8 More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. 16 Only let us hold fast to what we have attained.

“I regard everything as loss” – Not that everything must be gone (though for Paul, all had been stripped away). Our attitude toward things in our lives is as though they were not. Cling to nothing but Christ. Depend on nothing but God. Rely on nothing but the power of the Holy Spirit that is yours by grace through faith.
My prayer lately has been, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior, let me be with you in the center of the Father’s will.” Every thought, action, attitude, desire, is brought into submission to the Father’s will. This is the intent beneath the phrase in The Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
And I press on. When discouragement rises, I press on. When resistance presses, I press on. When conflict stirrs, I press on. I do not press on, necessarily, toward a particular solution. It would be a misreading of the text to think that we ought never to reconsider a particular course of action when faced with resistance. I think rather that we press on toward the goal, which may mean finding another route to get there. But, either way, we do not loose focus on our purpose, why we are here, and who we have been called to serve.