Take a Stand – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, Peace

Take A Stand

God’s Not Dead: Take A Stand – Introduction

Today, we conclude our series based on the movie, God’s Not Dead. So far, we’ve examined “Where is God when everything goes wrong?”, “Is our faith blind?”, and “How do we respond to critics?” In the movie, through all of the challenges thrown at him, Josh never turned away from his best friend, Jesus. He chose not to give in to the pressures of those around him – his professor, his girlfriend, etc. – and he chose, instead, to take a stand – to take a stand for Jesus. Like Josh, we are often faced with challenges to our faith. In the midst of those challenges we, too, have a choice. So today, we’ll take a look at what it might mean for us to Take A Stand For Jesus.

Spiritual Quote

“Friendship should, like a well-stocked cellar, be continually renewed.
~Samuel Johnson

Thoughts

Josh refers to Jesus as his friend. Our hymn today reminds us that Jesus is our friend. But, what does that mean? What is a friend, and what is friendship?

The dictionary defines a friend as one attached to another by affection or esteem, a favored companion; a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection. Synonyms include companion and confidant. An acquaintance, on the other hand, is someone known to us without the intimate quality of friendship. Friendship is the quality or condition of being friends.

So, a true friend is someone with whom we have a deep, intimate bond and relationship.  True friendship is unconditional acceptance no matter what happens – “No matter what happened yesterday, I’m still your friend now.” Basically, a true friend loves us “warts and all.”

How many of you have ever heard of Joseph Medlicott Scriven? If you have, it’s a name you’re not likely to forget. Joseph…Medlicott…Scriven. I’m sure there aren’t many of us who remember ever hearing of him.

Let me tell you a little about him. He was an Irish immigrant, a graduate of Trinity College in Dublin, who at 25 had fallen in love and was to be married; but on the day before his wedding everything changed in an instant.

While crossing a bridge to visit Joseph, his fiancée fell off of her horse, and drowned in the River Bann in Ireland…the very day before their wedding! What a horrendous accident. As we might imagine, Joseph was crushed. So, he sailed to Canada to forget his broken heart, and to try to start a new life. And he pretty much did–eventually falling in love again, and even getting engaged for a second time. All seemed right with the world once more for Joseph Scriven.

But, before they could wed, his fiancée got very sick, and four months later she died of pneumonia. What are the odds?  How would one recover from that horrible shock…all over again?

If it were you, sitting there at your second funeral, would you blame God, turn away from Him, despair of all His supposed goodness?

You’ve probably heard folks say or post on Facebook, “I married my best friend.”

For Joseph Scriven, he couldn’t say that. He had to bury his potential best friend…twice.  And, as if wasn’t enough, while recovering from these dual tragedies, his mother in Ireland became extremely ill, and he couldn’t sail home to be with her.

Heartbroken and helpless. It was beyond adding “insult to injury,” almost a cruel cosmic hoax to see how much he could bear. How many of us have felt those same feelings of despair and hopelessness. How many times have we wondered, “just how much am I supposed to endure?”

In response to his feelings, Joseph did the only thing he could do. In 1860, he wrote to his mother, and sent her a poem that he hoped might give her some comfort in his absence.

Why do I mention Joseph Scriven’s sad story? To depress you? No…to encourage you!

Despite his circumstances, horrible circumstances to be sure, almost soap opera-like tragedies, he never lost faith in his best friend…and that simple poem to his mother became a famous hymn about that same friend, Jesus Christ. Yes, you guessed it…in the midst of his deep despair, Mr. Scriven penned the poem that would one day be set to music – our hymn, What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

Let’s take a closer look at a few lines that we sang earlier:

What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
oh, what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer!

Joseph considered Jesus to be his best friend, and despite his loss, his trust in his friend never wavered, and he stood with Him in a life of ministry to the poor in Port Hope, Ontario until his death in 1886.

In the film God’s Not Dead we see a similar friendship with Jesus despite some heavy losses by our protagonist.

In the film, Josh Wheaton, takes a stand for his Christian belief in God with his college philosophy class, trusting in his Friend to see him through as well, no matter what the cost. And, as the movie shows, it costs him plenty.

We’ve seen the movie trailer before. Let’s watch it again, only this time, let’s pay attention to how Josh responds to his professor’s challenge to renounce his best Friend:

Movie Clip*: God’s Not Dead Trailer

How would we respond to a public challenge like this, one that impugns our friend? It may be a co-worker, a neighbor, or someone in your church. It could even be a member of your family or the love of your life.

How far would you go to defend your friend and not disappoint them when they need you most? Think about it for a moment. How often have we come to the defense of a friend, or said something like, “Wait a minute, you can’t talk to a friend of mine that way.”? Would we come to Jesus’ defense the same way we defend our other friends? We take a stand for our friends and family all the time. Do we consider Him to such a friend that we would Take a Stand for Jesus?

Taking a stand can be a hard thing to do sometimes. Josh sets the bar pretty high for all of us in the film, willing to sacrifice everything to stand with his best Friend.

First Peter 3:15 says, “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

Let’s look at Josh’s motivation and his “Taking A Stand” for his Friend, Jesus Christ, and, in the process, maybe we’ll discover what exactly makes a person a true friend? 

What Makes A Friend?

First of all, let’s take a look at some of the things the Bible says about friendship.

  • A real friend is consistent in their affection.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)

What does that mean in our world today? It means that no matter what happens, they are there for us, 24-7, especially when our world falls apart. When it is the worst, even at 4 A.M., we can call them because we know they’ll come and help.

  • A true friend is brutally honest.

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” (Proverbs 27:5-6)

If we have a problem, they care enough to not sugarcoat it. They tell you the truth. If there’s broccoli in your teeth, or that color isn’t the most flattering…they’ll tell us. They care too much to let us be a fool, get hurt, or be embarrassed.

  • A genuine friend is closer than family, even to the point of death.

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother(Proverbs 18:24).”

Someone who is closer than a brother is someone who will sacrifice even their own life for us, and we for them. They are more than family. They are our go-to-guy in any situation because we know that they have your back. When it’s life or death, they will step in for us no matter what.

Who can be with you 24-7, tells you the truth all the time, and would even die for you as a brother?

I think the answer becomes clear when we consider Mr. Scriven’s best Friend, the man from Nazareth, Jesus Christ, because He didn’t just say it, He “…demonstrates His own love toward us…” (Romans 5:8).

Jesus is that “friend who sticks closer than a brother,”. He is always there, always honest, and as a brother He even died for us. Josh knows this and acts accordingly in his philosophy class.

Scripture tells us:

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:16)
and
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16)

Think about this for a moment. Do you know anyone who cares so much for you that they would actually die for you? Would you die for another? Jesus laid down His life for us. Would we lay down ours for Him?

Take A Stand

This is the litmus test. A real true friend will stand with us when our reputation is in question, when we’re at the very bottom, when we are completely broken, and have nothing.

The whole premise of God’s Not Dead is summed up beautifully in the scene at the library where Josh reveals his motivation to Martin Yip, a student from Communist China, who doesn’t quite get it. His motivation is very simple…pure friendship that does not want to let his Friend down.

Josh lays out all his “difficulties,” – “Everyone thinks I’m crazy…Girlfriend, ex-girlfriend…My parents don’t want me to risk it…I’ll have to work like a dog to catch up in all my other classes.” But, ultimately, he has no real qualms about defending his friend to his atheist professor, despite all the risk and difficulty. It’s a no brainer. Why? Because he thinks Jesus is alive. What a powerful statement of faith.  He thinks that Jesus of Nazareth is really and truly still alive…today, right now! Do we? Is our faith so strong that we believe that too? Do we believe it enough to take a stand for Him?

Do we proclaim Jesus to be our friend? Would we stand up for him in public like Josh? It is a remarkable love that we can also see elsewhere in the Bible. Let’s take a look at the Old Testament story of another true friendship.

Jonathan and David

After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.” (1 Samuel 18:1-3)

Setting aside any other possible interpretations of the story of Jonathan and David, of all the stories of friendship in the Bible, this is perhaps the greatest. And what do we see modeled here between Jonathan and David? We see the Golden Rule that Jesus established for us and recorded in Matthew 22:34-40…treat others as you would like to be treated…which means love them as you love yourself. And that’s exactly what Jonathan did, “…he loved David as himself.”

Jonathan even defended David and protected him from his father, King Saul.

“Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. But Jonathan had taken a great liking to David and warned him, “My father Saul is looking for a chance to kill you. Be on your guard tomorrow morning; go into hiding and stay there. I will go out and stand with my father in the field where you are. I’ll speak to him about you and will tell you what I find out.” Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you, and what he has done has benefited you greatly. He took his life in his hands when he killed the Philistine. The Lord won a great victory for all Israel, and you saw it and were glad. Why then would you do wrong to an innocent man like David by killing him for no reason?” Saul listened to Jonathan and took this oath: “As surely as the Lord lives, David will not be put to death.”” (1 Kings 19:6)

Now that’s standing up for your friend – standing up to your own father, the King no less, when it’s literally life and death. And I’m sure Jonathan knew David was a “threat” to his right to Saul’s throne one day. Talk about risking it all!

And how did David respond to him? Again, not delving into any other interpretations or possible implications, he loved him in return. Their hearts were knit together, and when David learned of his death he mourned him and said, “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; you have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was more wonderful than the love of women (2 Samuel 1:26).”

He loved him more than the love itself!

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”

That is what we see Jonathan initiated with David, and also what we see Josh reciprocating to Jesus’ love for him in coming to His defense in his philosophy class.  Josh doesn’t want to let him down. “I think of Jesus as my friend. I don’t want to disappoint Him.”

Let’s Get Practical – Dale Carnegie

One of the foremost experts on friendship was Dale Carnegie. For more than 100 years, and in almost as many countries, his methods and courses have been changing the way people view each other for the better.

Carnegie grew up a very poor farm boy in Missouri, but he soon discovered biblical truths about friendship that he put into secular terms in a book that sold over 5 million copies in his lifetime called, How To Win Friends and Influence People. It’s a gem of a book, and if you struggle with relationships, I highly recommend it. In fact, I should go back and re-read it! Mr. Carnegie’s life motto was one that should resonate with all believers: “Forget yourself; do things for others.”  –Dale Carnegie

Pretty simple, right? It’s a bit longer, but Paul wrote much the same thing in his letter to the Church at Philippi, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

One of our tasks as we study Scripture is to give thought to how whatever lesson we happen to be reading can be applied in our lives today. So, let’s get practical and have something to apply regarding friendship.

There are the six basic truths that Carnegie lived by. They’re tried and true and, if we want to have friends, all we have to do is apply these proverbs to our own lives and watch what happens.

  1. Be genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the most important word in the world. Use it often.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves. Ask questions.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest. Avoid “I.”
  6. Make the other person feel sincerely important.

That’s it…that’s all we have to do. In short, love others as we would like to be loved.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie

Never Too Late

What if we haven’t been the best of friends to Jesus? Is it too late?

Time and distance don’t collapse true friendships. For example, I have a very, very dear friend, Billy. While I was living in California, Billy and I enjoyed a very close, very true friendship. If I ever needed a friend, he was there – no questions asked. And I offered him the same in return. As happens, our lives took different paths and I ended up moving to Oregon. It had probably been seven years since Billy and I had seen each other, or even had contact. We had connected though Facebook, but even that was cursory. Then, a couple of months ago I was surprised, and thrilled, to learn that Billy was moving – to Grants Pass! When he got here, he made contact, we connected, and our friendship, our relationship, picked up right where we had left it. It was as if the last seven years of absence simply didn’t exist.

Our friendship, our relationship, with Jesus is the same way. Remember, Jesus promised He would always be with us. In Matthew 28:20 we read, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Notice He doesn’t put any qualifiers on it – just like a true friend, just like my friend Billy, no matter how much time has elapsed, or how much distance we have allowed to creep in between us, He will never, ever leave us. If we haven’t been the best of friends to Him, it’s never too late.

And what would being a friend to Him look like? Unlike Peter, we don’t deny Him. Like Josh, even when everyone around us thinks we’re crazy, we hold true to our faith and to our friend – we Take a Stand for Jesus.

Closing Thoughts

We’ve seen what a real friend is in the example of Jesus Christ, and Josh’s Jonathan/David response to His love when he stood up for Him.

True faith is action – just like Josh standing up in his philosophy class. It requires works…not for salvation, but as evidence of it. Real faith means taking a step, an action, it means standing up. That’s what we call baptism. After we place our faith in Jesus Christ, we take an action, a step of faith, to show our belief. And it doesn’t matter if, up until now, we haven’t been the kind of friend we should have been…it doesn’t matter if we’ve let time or distance temporarily separate us – it’s never too late.

As a side note, Joseph Scriven never married. His action was a life devoted to ministering to the poor for the sake of his best Friend. Let’s look at the rest of his poem, today’s hymn. I’d like to think his mom found great comfort in it, and in her son’s remarkable faith.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged –
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge –
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
thou wilt find a solace there.
Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
may we ever, Lord, be bringing
all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
there will be no need for prayer –
rapture, praise, and endless worship
will be our sweet portion there.

With that sort of a friend, why wouldn’t we take a stand for Him and give our all no matter the risk…especially when we know He stands right there alongside us? What a friend we have in Jesus, a friend who stood up for us, and who “sticks closer than a brother!”

In closing, let me share this poem by William Blake, 1757 – 1827:

I looked for my soul,
but my soul I could not see.
I looked for my God,
but my God eluded me.
I looked for a friend,
and then I found all three.

Scripture

  • Peter 3:15
  • Proverbs 17:17
  • Proverbs 27:5-6
  • Proverbs 18:24
  • Romans 5:8
  • John 15:16
  • 1 John 3:16
  • 1 Samuel 18:1-3
  • Matthew 22:34-40
  • 1 Kings 19:6
  • 2 Samuel 1:26
  • Philippians 2:3-4
  • Matthew 28:20

Join the Discussion

If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to respectfully comment. And, if this message resonates with you, please fee free to share it.

Support Our Ministry

We are a very small church doing wonderful things within our community. In order to continue doing the work God has put before us, we need your help. Please consider making a donation, or sign up as a monthly pledge donor. All gifts large and small are greatly appreciated. Simply click the Donate link in the upper menu. Thank you, and may God bless your generosity.

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Take a Stand – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, Peace

God’s Not Dead 4: Take a Stand – Introduction

This week we conclude our series based on the movie, God’s Not Dead. So far, we’ve examined “Where is God when everything goes wrong?”, “Is our faith blind?”, and “How do we respond to critics?” In the movie, through all of the challenges thrown at him, Josh never turned away from his best friend, Jesus. He chose not to give in to the pressures of those around him – his professor, his girlfriend, etc. – and he chose, instead, to take a stand – to take a stand for Jesus. Like Josh, we are often faced with challenges to our faith. In the midst of those challenges we, too, have a choice. So today, we’ll take a look at what it might mean for us to Take A Stand For Jesus.

Spiritual Quote

“Friendship should, like a well-stocked cellar, be continually renewed.”
~Samuel Johnson

Planned Scripture

  • Peter 3:15
  • Proverbs 17:17
  • Proverbs 27:5-6
  • Proverbs 18:24
  • Romans 5:8
  • John 15:16
  • 1 John 3:16
  • 1 Samuel 18:1-3
  • Matthew 22:34-40
  • 1 Kings 19:6
  • 2 Samuel 1:26
  • Philippians 2:3-4
  • Matthew 28:20

Join Us

Join us each Sunday at 10:45 for worship and fellowship!

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Fans or Followers – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceFans or Followers – Introduction

Those familiar with Facebook are familiar with terms such as “Fans” and “Followers.” In the Facebook world, “Fan” has been replaced by “Likes” – someone who “Likes” your page, your business, what it is you do or offer. But, as a Fan you may not see all of the posts. You’re not that invested. On the other hand, a “Follower” is someone who, after “Liking” your page, is interested enough in your page, your business, what it is you offer, to receive your content. After “Liking” a page, you can turn off the “Follow” aspect, thus minimizing the impact to your News Feed or Pages News Feed. In essence, you can then like a business and then choose not to pay attention to what they have to say.

For many Christians, we treat our relationship with Jesus the same way. We’ve clicked the “Like” button in our hearts, and then we’ve turned around clicked the “Unfollow” button. The question before us is, “are we fans or followers?”

Spiritual Quote

“Following Jesus isn’t something you can do at night where no one notices. It’s a twenty-four-hour-a-day commitment that will interfere with your life. That’s not the small print—that’s a guarantee.”
~Kyle Idleman

Thoughts

Our discussion today involved sharing some thoughts from Pastor Shannon Blosser. You can read his thoughts for yourself in his sermon.

We also spoke about Kyle Idleman’s question posed in Pastor Blosser’s sermon:

“If following Jesus cost you everything, would it be worth it?” If following Jesus and accepting the invitation to “come and see” cost us our plans, our desires, our hopes, and our dreams, would the Lord’s grace and salvation be worth it?”

That’s the question I’d like for us to ponder, pray over, and answer. Scripture, especially The Book of Acts (9:2, 18:26, 19:9, 19:23, 22:4, 24:14, and 24:12), uses the term “Followers of The Way” to describe the first Christians. These weren’t people who simply liked what Jesus had to say. They were people who were deeply devoted to His teachings, understood Him to be the Son of God, the Messiah for whom they had been waiting, and who were willing to give up everything, including their lives, in pursuit of a relationship with Him.

Scripture also tells us: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Closing Thoughts

Are we truly changed? Have we allowed our faith in Jesus to transform us? Are we, as those first Christians, Followers of The Way, true Jesus Followers? Or, are we simply Fans – liking much of what He has to say, but not really willing to truly let His teaching change us?

Following the message, we had a very fruitful discussion of what it means to each of us to be Followers rather than mere Fans. I invite readers of this message to think about it,  read Pastor Blosser’s message, and discover what your heart tells you about your relationship with Christ.

Scripture

  • Acts: 9:2, 18:26, 19:9, 19:23, 22:4, 24:14, and 24:12
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17

Join the Discussion

If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to respectfully comment. And, if this message resonates with you, please fee free to share it.

Support Our Ministry

We are a very small church doing wonderful things within our community. In order to continue doing the work God has put before us, we need your help. Please consider making a donation, or sign up as a monthly pledge donor. All gifts large and small are greatly appreciated. Simply click the Donate link in the upper menu. Thank you, and may God bless your generosity.

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Fans or Followers – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceFans or Followers – Introduction

Those familiar with Facebook are familiar with terms such as “Fans” and “Followers.” In the Facebook world, “Fan” has been replaced by “Likes” – someone who “Likes” your page, your business, what it is you do or offer. But, as a Fan you may not see all of the posts. You’re not that invested. On the other hand, a “Follower” is someone who, after “Liking” your page, is interested enough in your page, your business, what it is you offer, to receive your content. After “Liking” a page, you can turn off the “Follow” aspect, thus minimizing the impact to your News Feed or Pages News Feed. In essence, you can then like a business and then choose not to pay attention to what they have to say.

For many Christians, we treat our relationship with Jesus the same way. We’ve clicked the “Like” button in our hearts, and then we’ve turned around clicked the
“Unfollow” button. The question before us is, “are we fans or followers?”

Spiritual Quote

“Following Jesus isn’t something you can do at night where no one notices. It’s a twenty-four-hour-a-day commitment that will interfere with your life. That’s not the small print—that’s a guarantee.”
~Kyle Idleman

Planned Scripture

  • Acts: 9:2, 18:26, 19:9, 19:23, 22:4, 24:14, and 24:12
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17

Join Us

Join us every Sunday at 10:45 for worship and fellowship!

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Jesus is Calling – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceJesus is Calling – Introduction

No, He’s not leaving a voice mail. He’s not sending text messages. He’s not posting on Facebook, or sending us emails. But, Jesus is Calling. He’s calling us to Come to Him, to See Him, to Go to Others, and to Tell them about Him. He’s calling us into a new life, a life transformed by our faith in Him.

Spiritual Quote

“No man can follow Christ and go astray.”
~William H. P. Faunce

Thoughts

Every holiday has a message:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – Equality through peace and non-violence.
  • 4th of July – Our nation’s independence from foreign rule.
  • Mother’s Day and Father’s Day – Moms and dads are special; deserving of honor, love, and respect.
  • Memorial Day – Freedom comes at a cost; and we should remember and honor those who paid for our freedom with their lives.
  • Christmas – Jesus’ birth.

Today, we come together to celebrate Easter. More than bunnies, fake grass, brightly colored eggs, candy, and egg hunts; Easter is when Christians remember Jesus’ death, and celebrate His resurrection. The message, of course, is, “He is Risen!”

I’d like to talk today about a deeper message that can be found in Scripture. It’s a message that, though written over 2000 years ago, can be applied to our lives today. Each of the four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – tell of the events around Jesus’ resurrection slightly differently. Today, I’m going to focus on the story as it is told through the eyes of Matthew.

To set the state: Jesus has been tried, convicted, beaten, and crucified. His body was prepared and buried; and the tomb was sealed with a stone. After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week (known today as Sunday), Mary Magdalene and a woman identified as “the other Mary” went to see the tomb. There was an earthquake, an angel appeared, and the angel rolled away the stone. We pick up the story in Matthew 28:5-8.

“But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.”

There are five words in the passage that convey a meaningful message – Jesus is Calling.

The first word is – Come! The angel invited the women to come. Scripture often invites people to come. The people of Israel were invited to come out of Egypt; then, they were invited to come to the promised land. Listen to Isaiah’s invitation in Chapter 55, Verses 1-3:

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread. And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me…”

And listen also to the invitation issued in Revelation 22:17:

“And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirst come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.”

Who is “the Spirit and the bride”? The Spirit, of course, is the Holy Spirit. The bride is the church, the body of believers. The church, along with the Holy Spirit, invites everyone to come to know Jesus – the Living Water.

In Matthew 11:38, Jesus extends the same invitation: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

This has a spiritual meaning. What’s our burden? Are we burdened by guilt, negative behaviors, or trying to live up to others’ expectations? Jesus is Calling – and He invites us to Come to Him.

The second word from Matthew is See! Seeing is more than just looking. When we look at something, we may not always understand what it is we’re looking at. When we truly “see” something, we understand or comprehend it. That’s why the angel told the women to See, not just to look. The angel wanted the women to understand the magnificence of the moment – the tomb was empty, Jesus had risen.

In Ephesians 1:18, Paul invites us to See when he prays, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling…” Through seeing, knowing and comprehending, we are transformed.

In Romans12:2, Paul invites us “to be transformed by the renewing of (our) mind…”

Jesus is Calling us to See Him – and to be transformed.

Next, the women are told to Go and to Tell. This is reminiscent of our Palm Sunday message last week. The Gospel of Mark tells the story of a demon-possessed man who was healed by Jesus. The man decides to travel with Jesus. Instead, Jesus tells him, in Mark 5:19, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”

Mark 16:15 tells us to, “…Go into all the world and preach the gospel…”

Go and Tell is a common theme in Jesus’ teachings. Jesus is Calling us to go out into the world and tell others, not only about Him, but of our experience with Him – how our faith in Him has transformed our lives.

The last word from our passage is not so much a word as it is a behavior – Obey. The women obeyed the angel and “went out quickly…and ran to bring His disciples word.” Jesus is Calling us to obey. Just as we discussed last week, we are to obey His commands – His command to Come, to See, to Go, and to Tell. And what was His greatest command, after loving God? The Gospel of John tells us twice:

John 13:34-35 – “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 15:12 – “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Closing Thoughts

The message of Easter is – Jesus is Calling.

He calls us to Come to Him, to See and to Know Him, to Go out and Tell others about Him, and to Obey His command.

We don’t have to stand on street corners and yell through bull horns or loud speakers. We don’t have to carry large posters and signs. And we definitely don’t have to beat people over the head with our Bibles. We simply have to live the message of Easter each day.

When we truly live our lives as followers of Jesus, and we obey His simplest of commands – to love others – others will see the changes in us. They will See Him, the risen Christ, living in and through us when we obey His command and learn to truly love one another. They will be inspired to Come to Him. And, as their lives are transformed, they too will go on to tell others.

Jesus is Calling us, each day, to be just a little bit better than we were the day before. Jesus is Calling us to a fuller, richer life – through Him. I invite you to answer His call.

Scripture

  • Matthew 28:5-8
  • Isaiah 55:1-3
  • Revelation 22:17
  • Matthew 11:28
  • Ephesians 1:17-18
  • Romans 12:2
  • Mark 5:19
  • Mark 16:15
  • John 13:34-35
  • John 15:12

Join the Discussion

If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to respectfully comment. And, if this message resonates with you, please fee free to share it.

Support Our Ministry

We are a very small church doing wonderful things within our community. In order to continue doing the work God has put before us, we need your help. Please consider making a donation, or sign up as a monthly pledge donor. All gifts large and small are greatly appreciated. Simply click the Donate link in the upper menu. Thank you, and may God bless your generosity.

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Jesus is Calling – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceJesus is Calling – Introduction

No, He’s not leaving us voice mails. He’s not sending text messages. He’s not posting on Facebook, and He’s not sending emails. But, Jesus is Calling. He’s calling us to Him, to See Him, to Go to Others, and to Tell them about Him. Jesus is Calling us into a new life; a life transformed by our faith in Him.

Spiritual Quote

“No man can follow Christ and go astray.”
~William H. P. Faunce

Potential Scripture

  • Matthew 28:5-8
  • Isaiah 55:1-3
  • Revelation 22:17
  • Matthew 11:28
  • Ephesians 1:17-18
  • Romans 12:2
  • Mark 5:19
  • Mark 16:15
  • John 13:34-35
  • John 15:12

Join Us!

Join us Easter Sunday at 10:45 for worship and fellowship!

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Jesus is Alive and Well – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceJesus is Alive and Well – Introduction

Over the past few weeks I have been completely overwhelmed by the faith and the love demonstrated by those who God’s Holy Spirit has brought into this church. The feelings within me are so deep, so profound, they have become a jumble of thought and emotion. So much so that I find it hard to even put them into writing. I am so moved by how God is working here, in this place, that I know, without an ounce of doubt, that Jesus is Alive and Well!

Spiritual Quote

“The whole being of any Christian is faith and love. Faith brings the person to God, love brings the person to people.”
~Martin Luther

Thoughts

I have no structured message today. Instead, I’d like to simply speak from my heart.

The opportunity to serve:

  • Providing Christmas Dinner for St. Vincent DePaul Kitchen
  • Hosting a Beautiful Christmas Party
  • Providing warmth, food, and shelter to the homeless in below-freezing weather

Generosity of Others:

  • Our Church Members Answered the Call to Action
  • Community Support

Changing the Face of Homelessness:

  • I’ve Been There
  • Speaking From Experience Rather Than Concept or Theory
  •             John and Alana
  •             Lyric and Lorri
  •             Family of 5
  •             Jerry
  •             Terry

These folks have replaced the abstract “them” with real names and real faces. They are people with needs and feelings. They are people filled with an amazing faith. They are not some abstract “problem” that must be cured. They are real people with real challenges who simply want, and deserve, kindness, respect, and just a little love.

(Intelligent, Polite, Gracious, Thankful, Considerate of Others, Unselfish)

I John 4:7-21 tells us, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

I’d like to share a paragraph from a sermon by Pastor Michael McCartney:

“John tells us in I John 4: 7-21 that those who genuinely know God walk in His love. Their life is filled with acts of love toward others. They love because they themselves have experienced the love of the Father through Jesus. This love encounter has transformed their lives and their minds and they therefore live a life of love so as to please their Heavenly Father. John tells us as Christians that we are to love because of the experience of love. He also tells s that God is love so when we live the way of love then we are acting and being like God. This is why Paul in chapter 12 (1 Corinthians) called this the most excellent way to serve God. John goes on to warn the church of Jesus Christ that if they do not live lives of love then the Lord is not in their life. He at the end of his section says, ‘Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” John makes it clear that love is not an option it is a must. We are to love one another in the church as well as the lost of this world. If we choose to forsake the path of love then we chose to forsake God himself.”

Closing Thoughts

Paul says in I Corinthians 13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Words cannot express how blessed I feel to be part of such a wonderful community – a community based on love…love for God, love for Jesus, and love for each other. The Holy Spirit has truly guided the right and perfect people through our doors. And through the generosity of you, and of others, many have said what we’re doing has been a blessing in their lives. I want to say, today, that in all actuality, it is we who are blessed. The “homeless” have enriched me and touched me in ways that words cannot describe. Our faith has, indeed, brought us to God. And it is His love that has brought us to each other. It is through all of you, and through all of “them” that I am convinced that Jesus is Alive and Well. Our hymn today could not be more true – There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit In This Place! Thank you – for your love, your support, your generosity, your faith. I pray that the Lord shower each and every one of you with an abundance of blessings in the coming New Year.

Scripture

  • I John 4:7-21
  • I Corinthians 13

Join the Discussion

If you would like to share your thoughts, feel free to comment. And, if this message resonates with you, please feel free to share it.

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Jesus is Alive And Well! – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceJesus is Alive and Well

Over the past few weeks I have been completely overwhelmed by the faith and the love demonstrated by those who God’s Holy Spirit has brought into this church. The feelings within me are so deep, so profound, they have become a jumble of thought and emotion. So much so that I find it hard to even put them into writing. I am so moved by how God is working here, in this place, that I know, without an ounce of doubt, that Jesus is Alive and Well!

Spiritual Quote

“The whole being of any Christian is faith and love. Faith brings the person to God, love brings the person to people.”
~Martin Luther

Planned Scripture

  • I John 4:7-21
  • I Corinthians 13

Join Us

Join us for worship and fellowship.

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

 

Through the Eyes of Luke – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceThrough the Eyes of Luke

Introduction

This week we view the Christmas story Through the Eyes of Luke. Many would say that the symbols Luke used and the story he tells couldn’t possibly be true. Though perhaps not literally true, and though they may not make complete sense to us given our current knowledge and understanding, when we look beyond the literal word to the example of faith the words portray, the stories are true none the less.

Spiritual Quote

“The Bible is not supposed to make sense, it is supposed to make faith.”
~Kamran Karimi

 Thoughts

Luke was, in all likelihood, a Gentile convert. Like Mark and Matthew before him, Luke was not an eye witness to the events of Jesus’ birth, life, or ministry. Chapter 1, verse 2 tells us, “just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us.” By his own statement we see that Luke relied on what he had heard, and grew to believe, rather than what he saw.

In verse 1, Luke states that many people had undertaken the task of compiling the narratives and in verse 3 he states his purpose – to place those narratives in order. he relied heavily on Mark. He also relied on material from either Matthew or what is referred to as the Q material; perhaps both. Other sources, no doubt, also existed. There are enough differences between Mark and Matthew’s Gospels and Luke’s, however, to suggest that Luke was the first to puts such material in writing.

Luke’s account of the Christmas story reads much like a Christmas pageant. Perhaps this is the reason his version of Jesus’ birth is the one most often acted out in Christmas pageants today. It is in this Gospel we hear of Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem, the shepherds, the manger, etc. Throughout Luke’s narrative, characters seem to enter, the scene plays out, and then the scene ends with words like, “And when his time of service had ended he went straight to his house” (1:23), “And the angel departed from her” (1:38), and “…Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home” (1:56). Indeed, a playbill might read:

  • Act 1, Scene 1 – Zechariah and Elizabeth
  • Act 1, Scene 2 – Angelic Annunciation to Mary
  • Act 1, Scene 3 – Mary and Elizabeth
  • Act 1, Scene 4 – Elizabeth Gives Birth to John (the Baptist)
  • Act 2, Scene 1 – Journey to Bethlehem
  • Act 3, Scene 2 – Jesus is Born
  • Act 3, Scene 3 – Shepherds Keep Watch
  • Act 4, Scene 4 – Circumcision, Naming, and Presentation of Jesus

Unlike the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, Luke’s Gospel creates a parallel between John the Baptist and Jesus. He alone provides details about John, he defines how John and Jesus impact each other, and always points his reader to Jesus’ supremacy.

Luke opens with the introduction of King Herod. Herod was made King of Judea in 40 B.C.E. by the Roman senate. He ruled until his death in 4 B.C.E. This is important when we look back to Matthew and his tale of Herod ordering the massacre of the first born males. For that order to have taken place, and to have an impact on Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, Jesus would have had to have been born prior to 4 B.C.E. And, it becomes important in Luke’s story, as we’ll see later.

After introducing the time as being the time of Herod, Luke turns aour attention to Zechariah and Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s parents. This is the only known source of information about John’s parentage. How did Luke know of it? Was this Luke’s attempt to tie his message to the Jewish past and, at the same time, maintain his theme of Jesus’ supremacy over John?

Zechariah was a priest and his wife, Elizabeth, was identified only as a “daughter of Aaron.” They were a righteous and obedient couple, advanced in years. But, despite their obedience, they were childless. Which, at the time was thought to be the result of being out of favor with God.

Zechariah is also the name of the Old Testament prophet. The Book of Zechariah talks of rebuilding the temple, purifying and returning the community to God, and foretells the messianic age. And, the Book of Zechariah comes immediately before the Book of Malachi. Malachi is not the name of the author, but rather a Hebrew word which means “my messenger.” It is in Malachi:1 we read, “Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way for me.” Could this be Luke’s way of setting the stage for John to prepare the way for Jesus? With John as the messenger foretold by Malachi, and with Zechariah immediately preceding Malachi, just as a father immediately precedes a son, giving John’s father the name of Zechariah sets the stage and expertly ties the events to the Jewish past.

The name of Elizabeth as John’s mother also sets the stage for Luke’s ties between john and Jesus. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the only Elizabeth was Elisheba, Aaron’s wife. Aaron was Moses’ brother. Their sister was Miriam, the Jewish name for Mary. Luke is the only Gospel writer to suggest John and Jesus were related by blood. Elisheba and Miriam were sisters-in-law, and their children would be first cousins. This relationship and tie-back to Jewish Scripture, again, sets up the relationship between Elizabeth and Mary as kinswomen, and the relationship between John and Jesus.

Luke’s story continues with Zechariah’s angelic vision and the annunciation, naming Gabriel as the messenger, proclaiming he and Elizabeth would bear a son, despite their advanced years. Details of Zechariah’s vision correlate perfectly to those of Daniel in the Old Testament. Luke has expertly rooted the births of John and Jesus into the ancient Jewish Scriptures. As the scene closes, we move on to Scene 2, and the introduction of Mary.

It is six months later and we are now in Nazareth. Gabriel’s greeting, “Rejoice, highly favored one,” in Greek translates the Hebrew meaning of the name Hannah – literally, “favored one.” Daniel provided the backdrop to Zechariah. Similarly, Hannah, who was the barren woman who gave birth to Samuel, provided the backdrop to the story of Mary.

In Luke, unlike Matthew, the angel appeared to Mary, not Joseph. It is here that Luke includes the concept of Mary’s virginity. It is Luke’s way of paralleling John and Jesus, yet maintaining Jesus’ superiority. “The birth of John the Baptist was achieved by having an elderly childless woman become an expectant mother. Jesus’ birth had to top that in wonder. Both were acts of God, but virginal conception is a greater miracle than ending barrenness.”* After all, God had ended barrenness before. The scene ends with Gabriel departing and Scene 3 opens with Mary traveling to be with Elizabeth.

When Mary greets Elizabeth, the baby, John, leapt in Elizabeth’s womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Once again, Jesus’ supremacy to John is established. Mary was filled with the Holy Spirit at the time of conception; Elizabeth became filled with Holy Spirit only when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, came near to her. After staying three months, the scene ends with Mary returning home to Nazareth. Scene 4 opens with the birth of John the Baptist, John being named and circumcised, and his presentment to the people. With this, Act 1 comes to a close.

Act 2 opens with a decree from Caesar Augustus that “all the world should be registered.” This is the census decree that, for Luke, would have Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem. Writing some 100 years after the events, Luke seems to have interwoven pieces of history in order to accomplish the task of getting Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. Jesus could not have been born in Nazareth because, as you’ll remember, nothing good can come from Nazareth.

Herod, we know, died in 4 B.C.E. Quirinius was made legate in Syria in 6 C.E., ten years later. There is no historical evidence of a census that required people to return to their ancestral home. Quirinius did order a census in 6-7 C.E., but it would have been after the time of Jesus’ birth and it covered only Galilee, not Judea. For Luke, the census and subsequent travel to Bethlehem served the purpose of getting Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, thus fulfilling Jewish expectations.

Having Jesus born in Bethlehem also served another purpose. It was another way Luke could show Jesus’ superiority over John. John the Baptist was born in an undisclosed city. Jesus, however, was born in the city of David. And, so it is that we have a near-term Mary and her husband, Joseph, traveling the almost 100 miles to the city of Bethlehem.

Just how long Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem before Jesus’ birth is uncertain. It didn’t seem particularly important to Luke. What was important was the swaddling cloth and where Jesus was laid. “The manger did not symbolize poverty but a peculiarity of location caused by circumstances. The lack of lodging was the means Luke employed to explain the use of the manger. Perhaps there is, as Hendrickx suggests, an allusion here to Jeremiah (14:8), where the prophet complained that when God visited the chosen people, God did not stay with those who were God’s people but lodged in an inn, as a foreign traveler would do.

The child Jesus, as an expression of God’s new disposition toward the people, should not stay in an in but should tabernacle with the people. The key to this concept is in the meaning of the word manger. Isaiah had written many years before, “The ox knows his owner and the ass its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, my people do not understand” (1:3). “Master’s crib” is translated in the Septuagint by the same word that Luke used here for manger. By placing the Savior in a manger, by making that the place where the shepherds were to find him, Luke was saying that God’s people were finally beginning to know the one who created and chose them. They would know their owner and their owner’s manger. This theme solidified the double use of the phrase “swaddling cloths” in verse 7 and again in verse 12. In the apocryphal Book of Wisdom, Solomon, Judah’s wealthiest king, said, “i was carefully swaddled and nursed, for no king has any other way to begin at birth” (Wisdom of Solomon 7:4 & 5). To be wrapped in swaddling cloths (not clothes) was a sign that Israel’s Messiah, its real King, was not an outcast among His people but was properly received and was one to whom proper care was given…The baby Jesus was wrapped in swaddling cloths, for, as Solomon suggested, this was the way every king began at birth. He was placed and found in the manger because he knew the God to whom he belonged.”

With Jesus born, scene 2 ends and scene 3 begins – enter the shepherds. Luke replaces Matthew’s magi with shepherds. Shepherds were somewhat outcast in Jewish culture. Perhaps Luke was letting us know that even at the time of His birth Jesus lived among, and was the Lord of, the outcasts. Also, Jesus was to have been born in Bethlehem – the city of David. David, you’ll remember, was a shepherd boy who was called by God to be king of Israel. Jesus was King, the Son of God, who would be known as the Good Shepherd, gathering all people unto God.

It is also in this scene that we have the angels appearing, making an annunciation to the shepherds, and singing and praising God. This is one more way Luke depicts Jesus’ superiority. Following all other annunciations, canticles, or songs of praise, were sung by the person receiving the message. here, however, the messengers, the angels themselves, sing the songs of praise.

For Luke, “God’s angels recognized at birth what the disciples came to see after Jesus’ death. The one who was King, Savior, and Messiah had come in the name of the Lord.” And so, with this angelic message, the shepherds traveled to Bethlehem, found the baby Jesus laid in a manger wrapped in swaddling cloths, and scene 3 comes to a close.

The final scene opens with Jesus’ circumcision and the naming ceremony. Unlike Matthew, who had Mary, Joseph, and Jesus fleeing to Egypt, Luke shows how, from the very beginning, Jesus was raised according to the Scriptures. The circumcision and naming ceremony, according to Jewish law, took place on the eighth day following His birth. Also, in keeping with the law, Mary observed 33 days of purification following the circumcision. At the end of this time, Jesus was presented at the temple, dedicating Mary’s firstborn to the Lord. Following the dedication, a burnt offering of a lamb was required. However, if a lamb could not be afforded, two turtledoves or pigeons could be substituted. Still keeping with the law, but demonstrating their lack of wealth, Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph made an offering of either turtledoves or pigeons.. The scene progresses with examples of prophecy and of Mary and Joseph’s continued obedience to the law; and it concludes with Jesus, at age 12, claiming awareness of His origins as God’s Son.

Closing Thoughts

Luke’s Gospel, indeed, reads like a grand play. It’s no wonder it is the story most often acted out in Christmas pageants worldwide. “Through Luke this pageant that once played to limited audiences in a Jewish-Christian community has now played to countless millions of people of every ethnic background the world over. With images drawn primarily from Luke’s birth store we sing “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night,” and “Silent Night, Holy Night,” and we too are drawn to that stable where time and eternity meet and where humanity and divinity interact, and we still invite that child, born amid the wonders of a heavenly chorus, to be born again, but this time in us so that we too might be incarnations of God’s presence in our world.”*

Like Mark and Matthew, Luke’s Gospel is meant to illumine its readers with the power and the glory of our Lord, Jesus Christ; and to draw its readers into a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God. And, like our quote states, it’s not required that the stories make any particular sense. The Bible isn’t meant to make sense, it’s meant to inspire faith, and a deep, personal relationship with God, through His Son Jesus Christ.

I’d like to close with these words from John Shelby Spong:

“…[The] narratives capture truth to the eyes of faith; truth that mere prose cannot capture. This truth touches the hearts of men and women in every generation with the power of its insight. In this alien and sometimes hostile universe, when fragile human beings stare into the vastness of space wondering whether they are alone, the message of these narratives comes to proclaim that beyond our finitude there is the infinity of God who embraces us, and that this God has drawn near to us in the person of Jesus. Through that divine life, human beings have received the ultimate validation of their worth. Heaven and earth have come together in a babe born in Bethlehem. We are not alone. We are not just an accident of a mindless physical proces sof evolution. We are special folk, the recipients of the love of God. Our humanity has been judged a worthy vehicle in which the love of God can dwell. The Holy Spirit hovers over each of us to assist us in the process of the Christ being born in us. So we too can sing glory to God in the highest, and we too can journey to those places that become Bethlehem for us, the places where God is experienced as dwelling in our midst and inviting us to come, worship, and adore.”*

And so it is. Amen.

Scripture:

  • Malachi 3:1
  • Luke 1 & 2

Acknowledgements

Retired Bishop John Shelby Spong, Author: Born of a Woman

Join the Discussion

If you’d like to share your thoughts, please feel free to comment. And, if this message resonates with you, please feel free to share it.

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Through the Eyes of Luke – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceThrough the Eyes of Luke – Introduction

This week, we conclude our review of the birth narratives by examining Jesus’ birth Through the Eyes of Luke.

Spiritual Quote

“The Bible is not supposed to make sense, it is supposed to make faith.”
~Kamran Karimi

Join Us

Join us Sunday for worship and fellowship.

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Through the Eyes of Matthew – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceThrough the Eyes of Matthew – Introduction

Continuing our examination of Jesus’ birth, this week we’ll look Through the Eyes of Matthew.

Spiritual Quote

Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. You can’t see the future, yet you know it will come; you can’t see the air, yet you continue to breathe.
~Claire London

Thoughts

Like Mark, the writer of the Gospel known as Matthew never heard or met Jesus. In all likelihood he was a very educated Jewish scribe, trained in the ancient Jewish Scriptures. Writing approximately 50 years after Jesus’ death, and 85 years after Jesus’ birth, Matthew drew heavily from the experiences told by others, which also shaped his own personal experience in coming to know the Lord Jesus as the Messiah for whom the Jews had been waiting. His experience was profound. His work “is a proclamation of a living faith.”* And, it is through his words that we, too, can experience what Jesus meant at the time, and what He can mean to us today.

What events were taking place at the time Matthew wrote his Gospel? Rome had crushed the Jewish nation. Jerusalem had been destroyed. All that remained of the temple was one wall – what is today referred to as the “wailing wall.” Having no homeland, the Jews were scattered. The newly converted Jewish Christians began to lose their ties to the Jewish community. More and more Gentiles were coming into the Christian faith. And, during this time, Jewish Christians were excommunicated from the synagogues. Matthew was likely among them.

It was amidst this turmoil that Matthew felt called by the Holy Spirit to write his Gospel. Of course, Mark’s Gospel already existed, and Matthew probably had that work in front of him as a reference. But Matthew seemed to find Mark’s message was somehow incomplete. He expanded on Mark’s message, and added information when he felt it necessary. “His desire was to illumine the presence of the God he met in Jesus, to proclaim how (this) Jesus had fulfilled the yearnings of the ages, how Jewish hopes, traditions, expectations, and even folklore had found completion in this human life that he had come to acknowledge as Immanuel, Lord, and Christ.”

Matthew’s understanding of and respect for Jewish law is evidenced by words he attributed to Jesus. it is in his Gospel that we read, “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17).

A hint that he was a Pharasaic scribe is found in 23:2 when he says, “the scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat; so practice whatever they tell you.” But, he had little regard for those Jewish leaders who opposed Jesus, calling them “hypocrites who shut the kingdom of heaven against the people” (23:13), and “whitewashed tombs, who obey the letter of the law while ignoring the spirit” (23:27).*

With the increasing separation from its Jewish past, Matthew wanted the increasingly Gentile converts to remember the origins of their faith. We tend to forget the Jewish origins of our faith still today. Matthew’s story is written in traditionally Haggidic Midrash style – he brings the events of the past into the present, thus keeping them alive and showing how they illumine not only the past, but the present, and the future.

The Torah consists of the first five books of the Jewish Bible. Matthew’s Gospel is written in 5 books. The introduction of his books was the birth story, which itself is broken into five episodes – the genealogy, the annunciation (angelic message), the magi, the flight into Egypt to escape the massacre, and the return from Egypt.* The Jews at the time would have recognized this format and its symbolism.

Opening with the genealogy, Matthew clearly wanted it to be known that Jesus was a direct descendent of David. Joseph was said to be a legitimate heir to the throne of David. When Joseph accepted Jesus as his Son, Jesus then became a “son of David.”

It’s interesting, however, to go through the “who begat whom.” First, it doesn’t seem to be a complete list. The numbers of generations don’t match up the number of years – approximately 1750 years had elapsed between Abraham and Jesus. In counting the names, only 41 are listed when there should be 41 (14×3). Additionally, “he left out four generations and six kings who actually ruled in Jerusalem.”* There must have been something about the 14-14-14 that Matthew felt was important and that the Jews of his time would understand.

It’s also interesting that the genealogy included five women. In those times, women were not mentioned in genealogies. And, each of the women were products of some type of scandal. Tamar pretended to be a prostitute to seduce her father-in-law. Rahab was another prostitute who helped the spies escape Jericho. Ruth was a Moabite who slept in Boaz’s bed while he was drunk, basically forcing him to fulfill his responsibility as kinfolk and marry her. Bathsheba committed adultery with David. David then orchestrated her husband Uriah’s death. Finally, we come to Mary, who became pregnant while betrothed to Joseph. Could it be that including the first four women was Matthew’s attempt to show that Mary’s pregnancy, though scandalous at the time, was not without precedent in Jewish history? And, regardless of the circumstance, it is by the power of God that great things can be accomplished to achieve His divine purpose.

Moving on to Mary, a virgin conception seems not to be Matthew’s focus. The text quoted from Isaiah, was not translated correctly. The Greek text of Isaiah 7:14 was translated as, “Behold a virgin shall conceive.” However, in the ancient Hebrew, text, Isaiah 7:14 simply reads, “behold a young woman shall conceive.” The Hebrew word is “‘almah” and means “young woman.” The word for virgin is “betulah.” It’s used to mean virgin in more than 50 Hebrew Scriptures, and is the only word used to mean virgin. “‘Almah” is used ten times, and is never used for virgin.

In his writing, Matthew was clearly demonstrating to his primarily Jewish audience that Jesus was both of the Davidic line and divine. It was his way of explaining Paul’s statement of Jesus in Romans 1:4, “the Son of David, according to the flesh, and was declared Son of God by the Spirit of holiness.” Unlike at the moment of Resurrection for Paul, or at Baptism for Mark, for Matthew, Jesus’ designation as God’s Son occurred at the moment of Conception.

Once pregnant, Matthew goes on to tell of the angelic annunciation to Joseph. This, too, would have deep meaning to Jews – angels appeared to Abraham and Sarah, to Isaac’s son Joseph, etc. Matthew expertly conveyed the meaning of Jesus as the Son of God, the Jewish prophecy fulfilled.

The setting for Jesus’ birth was Bethlehem. For Matthew, there was no journey from Nazareth as we’ll find in Luke. There is no stable, no manger, etc. It is simply assumed that Mary and Joseph live there. Matthew next introduces us to the events of Herod, the guiding star, and the wise men from the east. There is so much symbology to these events when you move past the literalness. Herod and the massacre of the male babies would surely bring to mind the Jewish past. They would have understood the importance by the comparison to Pharaoh and Moses. It’s as if Matthew was saying, ‘you know how important Moses is to the Jewish people? Jesus is even greater – even more important!” The guiding star is reminiscent of Isaiah – “I will give You as a light to the Gentiles,” “Arise, shine; for Your light has come,” and “…nations shall come to Your light and kings to the brightness of Your rising…” The rising light, for Matthew, becomes a guiding star. The star guides the kings of the east. And the kings bring gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Who were the men of the east? Pagans. Even the pagans of the east would recognize Jesus as King and would worship Him. Jesus as the shining light that guides us to God is just as real for us today as it was for the men and women of old!

Finally, Matthew brings us to the exodus to, and return from, Egypt. This, too, would resonate with the Jews of the time. It speaks of the ancient Scripture, and the exodus of the people from Egypt into freedom. There is no historical record of an actual massacre at of children during Herod’s reign. But the story clearly demonstrates the journey into darkness and slavery we have all traveled, and it demonstrates the journey into light and the freedom that is found in Christ.

Matthew’s work was not meant to be literal, or even historically accurate. It was meant to inspire faith. He had come to know God, and to know Jesus as the Son of God on such a deep and profound level that he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write of that experience so that others would know Him, too. That’s what is meant by Gospel – the Good News. He wrote to demonstrate the Good News – that fulfillment of all hopes, dreams, and expectations can be found through Jesus.

Closing Thoughts

A few nights ago I awoke from a deep sleep at 1:00AM with all of the symbology running through my head. And, as I normally do when things like this occur, I wrote down my thoughts. What came to me is the star represents Jesus, our light in the darkness, shining brightly and pointing the way to God. The magi, known as the three kings or the wise men, remind us that Jesus was and is the Messiah of the world – Jew and Gentile alike.

Even if the stories Matthew wrote aren’t literal, they are filled with deep meaning. Meaning that was as real 2000 years ago as it is today. In two short chapters, Matthew was able to explain the deep, profound experience and relationship with God that he found through Jesus. It was a real experience, and a real relationship; and that same experience and relationship is available to us today. Matthew’s words are timeless. And, like Matthew, our entire relationship is one of faith. We can’t see God, but we know He’s there. We can’t touch Jesus, but we know He’s with us. We can’t see the Holy Spirit, but we know He guides us. As our quote says, just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

As we get closer and closer to Christmas, I invite you to read Matthew, Chapters 1 & 2. As you do, keep in mind the history and the time in which the words were written. There is so much more there than what the literal words convey. Find in Matthew’s words the testimony of a living faith. Embrace that deep, abiding, living faith for yourself. And enter into a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God through His Son, whose wondrous birth we celebrate.

Acknowledgments

*Retired Episcopal Bishop & Author, John Shelby Spong – Born of a Woman

Scripture

Matthew 5:17, 23:13, 23:27
Matthew Chapters 1 & 2
Isaiah (Various)

Join the Discussion

If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to comment. And, if this message resonates with you, please feel free to comment.

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Through the Eyes of Matthew – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceThrough the Eyes of Matthew – Introduction

Continuing our examination of Jesus’ birth, this week we’ll look Through the Eyes of Matthew.

Spiritual Quote

Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. You can’t see the future, yet you know it will come; you can’t see the air, yet you continue to breathe.
~ Claire London

Planned Scripture

Working…..

Join Us

Join us Sunday for worship and fellowship.

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

 

Through the Eyes of Mark – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceThrough The Eyes of Mark – Introduction

For time immemorial religious beliefs have been based on faith. It’s just as true today as it was 2000 years ago when the first Christians began proclaiming the Gospel. Perhaps even more so because we’re 2000 years rather than mere decades away from the events that shaped and formed the Christian faith. As we approach Christmas and the celebration of Jesus’ birth, we’ll take a look at what it was like for the first Christians by examining Jesus and His divinity, looking through the eyes of the various writers of the New Testament. We’ll begin by looking Through the Eyes of Mark – the first Gospel writer.

Spiritual Quote

Faith is believing in something when common sense tells you not to.
~From the movie, “Miracle On 34th Street”

Thoughts

When we think of Christmas and Jesus’ birth, we automatically think of a manger, a guiding start, three wise men, and angels singing. Over 2000 years we’ve become so far removed from the actual events that we often lose sight of what it must have been like for the early evangelists trying to spread the Gospel. Not the Gospels, as we have them in Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John, but “the Gospel” – which literally means “the Good News.”

The stories of Jesus birth as related in Matthew and Luke are so familiar and have so shaped our thoughts that we forget that others came first. The first Gospel to be written, however, was the Gospel of Mark. But, before we can examine Jesus’ divinity Through the Eyes of Mark, we must start with Paul. Long before the Gospel of Mark was written, the first recorded words we have of Jesus’ message, the “Good News” and His divinity are found in Paul’s letters. Try to imagine what it must have been like for Paul.

Once a persecutor of the Jews, after his conversion experience he because one of the most ardent evangelists. This was before books, newspapers, television, radio, blogs, and websites. Stories, even sacred stories, were passed orally until they were written by scribes. Paul traveled, speaking of his experience, and of his inspiration. The Jews didn’t trust him, the Romans had no particular love for him, and the Gentiles had little or no understanding of Paul’s Jewish background. He needed to get the Jews to understand that Jesus was the messiah they had been waiting for, and he was trying to get the Gentiles to understand the message of love and hope that he had found through his experience with Jesus.

It’s important to remember, though, that Paul never met Jesus. He had no first-hand knowledge of Jesus’ birth, life, ministry, or even Jesus’ death and resurrection. All he had to go on was what he had heard, and what he had experienced on the Damascus Road. That experience with the resurrected Jesus changed his life forever. Now, I know many people say “things like that don’t happen” or “it must have been a dream.” But, many of us have had experiences wherein we can literally see, feel, and hear loved ones who have passed on, or even very real experiences with Jesus. I have no problem believing that Paul’s experience was very, very real.

In his evangelizing, Paul never spoke of Jesus’ birth or early life. This was a subject that he either had no knowledge of or felt insignificant to his message. To Paul, there was no virgin conception, there were no angels singing, no star in the night sky pointing to the place of birth, no wise men. In fact, to our knowledge, the first words written of Jesus’ birth were written somewhere between 49 and 55 CE (Common Era), in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. This was between 19 and 25 years before the first Gospel, the Gospel According to Mark, was written. In Paul’s letter, Galatians 4:4 & 5 tell us, “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.”* The second and final reference that Paul made was in his letter to the Romans. Chapter 1, verses 1-4 tell us, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God – the gospel He promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding His Son, who as to His earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by His resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.”*

The words used in these verses are very telling about Paul’s concept of Jesus’ divinity. To Paul, Jesus was born of a woman, just as everyone else. There was nothing special or supernatural about the way Jesus entered the world. He was a descendent of David, though Paul doesn’t relate to us whether that line was through Joseph or Mary. It was through the Holy Spirit that God appointed Jesus His Son by His resurrection.

It seems that in Paul’s mind, Jesus was born human, a descendent of David, and it was at the time of His resurrection that He was made God’s Son. There are other letters in which Paul reiterates God being the one to “elevate” Jesus to the status of His Son*:

  • Romans 4:24 – “for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.”
  • Romans 6:9 – “For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead…”
  • Romans 10:9 – “…believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead…”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:4 – “…he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:14 – “And if Christ has not been raised…”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:15 – “…for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead…”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:20 – “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead…”
  • Philippians 2:5-9 – “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name.”
  • Colossians 1:15 – “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”

Notice that in each of these verses, Paul is plainly stating that it was God who raised Jesus. It was God who exalted Jesus. “At this moment in primitive Christianity, Paul (who died around 64 C.E.) stood as witness to a normal human birth process for Jesus. It must be noted that despite his presumption of a natural birth, he nonetheless developed a profound Christology…

For this first great Christian thinker, a nexus existed in Jesus of Nazareth in which the divine and the human had come together. He saw Jesus as God’s first creation. He found a self-emptying divinity in Jesus…”* And, since God raised and exalted Jesus, the “adoption of Jesus and all the He meant into God was the first and original form in which the sonship for Jesus was claimed by Christian people.”* For Paul, Jesus becomes God’s Son at the time of exaltation and resurrection.

Having Paul’s concept in mind is important because all indications are that the author of the Gospel of Mark was a companion of Peter, who also evangelized with Paul. Mark was most likely a scribe, and a fellow evangelist. It was Paul’s and Peter’s teachings that informed Mark. It is generally assumed that Mark’s Gospel was written somewhere between 65 and 75 C.E. Paul had written of Mark being with him in Rome (Colossians 4:10); and in Philemon 24 Paul states that Mark was one of his fellow workers. Peter also addressed him as “My son mark” in 1 Peter 5:13. So, it’s clear that Mark worked closely, and was informed by, Peter and Paul.

In all likelihood, Mark wrote his Gospel in Rome, to a Gentile audience. It was probably read aloud, as were the Torah and the ancient texts. His purpose was to encourage believers who lived under threat of persecution, and even martyrdom. And, like Paul, Mark never met, traveled with, nor heard Jesus. In a letter written by Papias, the bishop of Hieropolis in Phyrgia wrote, “Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately though not indeed in order, whatever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him, but afterward, as I said, he was in company with Peter, who used to offer teaching as necessity demanded, but with no intention of giving a connected account of the Lord’s discourses. So Mark committed no error in thus writing some single points as he remembered them. For upon one thing he fixed his attention: to leave out nothing of what he had heard and to make no false statements in them.”**

Another early church father, Clement, wrote, “As Peter had preached the Word publicly at Rome, and declared the Gospel by the Spirit, many who were present requested that Mark, who had followed him for a long time and remembered well what he said, should write them out.

And having composed the Gospel he gave it to those who had requested it. When Peter learned of this, he neither directly hindered nor encouraged it.”**

Like us today, Mark’s story is a story of great faith, meant to inspire and encourage believers. The letters clearly indicate that Mark never met Jesus. And, they indicate he recorded everything he had heard and left nothing out. So, it stands to reason that Mark, like Paul, had no concept of Jesus’ birth. His birth was not something discussed, at least not in his presence, and there was nothing special or miraculous about it. Mark 3:21 tells us, “When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.”” This would hardly indicate that Mark had heard stories of Mary being a virgin, or that Jesus was the Son of God from the time of the conception.

So, Through the Eyes of Mark, when did Jesus’ divinity come about? It’s clear in Chapter 1, verse 1 that Mark understood Jesus as the Son of God – “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” He goes on to tell the story of John the Baptist, tying him back to ancient Scripture that the Jews would have understood. The way we read our Bibles today, the statement in verse 2 and 3 can sound like one single prophecy from the ancient Scriptures. However, what appears to us as a single statement foretelling John the Baptist is actually two separate texts blended together. Verse 2 tells us, “…Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.” This text was from Malachi 3:1. Verse 3 goes on to say, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.'” This text is not from Malachi, but from Isaiah 40:3.

Mark continues to tell of John’s preaching and baptizing and, in verse 9 he tells of Jesus’ baptism. This, it seems to Mark, is the critical point. In verse 10 he writes, “And immediately coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Keep in mind that this description may be a symbolic, descriptive metaphor used to explain the immense power and experience found through Christ; and to further illustrate the conviction that Jesus was, indeed, the Son of God. The Layman’s Bible Commentary puts it this way, “What had Jesus seen and heard before he announced with authority, “The time is fulfilled”? What had enabled Him to know that the period of preparation had been completed, that God had come to the point of fulfilling the promise which He had earlier given His people? We may not know the complete answers to such questions, but we can see what Mark believed was essential to that answer. God’ pledge, given to Israel in the prophets, had at last been redeemed. He had sent Elijah again to His people (John the Baptizer) with an authority direct from heaven. In the baptism of repentance which this Elijah had preached, in the forgiveness of sins which accompanied the contrition and baptism of Israel, God had given an authentic sign that the time of waiting was over. The work of John the Baptizer, embodied in the contrition, baptism, and forgiveness of God’s Israel, had marked the end of the epoch which God had ordained as preparation. This epoch had now given way to a new epoch in which God had sent His Spirit, baptizing His people with the powers of the coming Kingdom. Jesus had seen and heard the descent of this very Spirit, a sign to Him that had enabled Him to proclaim with confidence: “The Kingdom of God is at hand.” This sign had been disclosed when He had accepted the baptism proclaimed by John with divine authority. Then Jesus had seen the heavens opened. He had been granted a vision of those heights and depths of reality where God’s invisible deeds were already shaping the later course of earthly events. From the opened heavens He had seen God’s Spirit descending – sign of the accomplishment on earth of what God had already initiated in heaven. God’s Kingdom at that very moment had invaded earth’s territory. The Spirit descended on Jesus Himself, a clear token of His own appointment as one through whom the powers of the Kingdom of God operate. Henceforth He must speak and act out of this mysterious authority from heaven communicated by the Spirit and indicative of God’s intention to share His favor and His grace with men. The Kingdom was at hand because God’s Spirit had appeared with power among men.”

This, for Mark, was the essence of Jesus being God’s Son. For him, Jesus was born like any other human being. But, unlike Paul who seemed to believe that God elevated Jesus to the status of Son at the resurrection, Mark seemed to wish to convey the activity of the Holy Spirit and the importance of baptism. Why? And, what does it have to do with us, especially at Christmas?

Christmas is when we celebrate the birth of our Lord. But more than that, we celebrate all that we find in Him and through our relationship with Him. Let me share some excerpts from a sermon by Dr. Keith Wagner:

“…I believe that John the Baptist can help us. He announced to the people of his time that the Christ would be coming soon. “The one who is more powerful than I, is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.” John announced that Jesus was coming but he also acknowledged that he was but a servant of God. For the spirit of God to become real to us we must be willing to humble ourselves and accept the fact that Jesus is greater than ourselves.

John was preaching to a people who were powerless because of an oppressive Roman government. His listeners had no hope, no reason to believe that their lives had any meaning. When John announced that the Lord would be coming, he also said that his listeners would be baptized by the Holy Spirit. In other words, their lives would become filled with the Spirit of God and they would be transformed from people without hope to people with hope…

The Spirit of God cannot enter our souls until we are willing to humble ourselves and learn that we are mere mortals, in need of a powerful and eternal God…But we may have to be in a real low point in our lives before God can get through to us.

Secondly, John tells his listeners to get ready. Their lives would change; they would become more faithful, more loving and more hopeful. The opportunity for change was close at hand. To take advantage of that opportunity they had to trust in John’s word. He was God’s messenger, “the voice of one crying out in the wilderness.” In addition to humbling themselves they needed to listen…

Third, our lives are open to the Spirit of God when we are willing to change. John’s message was about repentance. Repentance means there is a change of direction. Take for example Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, by Dickens. He was a stingy, grumpy, mean spirited man whose life was changed after being confronted by the ghosts of the past, present and future. When he saw how hopeless his life turned out he was transformed and became generous and filled with a spirit of love.

A more contemporary story would be the story of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss. The Grinch was totally transformed, his heart growing 3 sizes greater. After being baptized by the spirit he became, kind, warm and generous and returned Christmas to the Whos in Whoville.

I believe that everyone wants to change but we are stuck. We are trapped by our sins of the past or we are distant from God pursuing our own personal agenda. As a result we are never fulfilled or satisfied. Life is nothing more than a treadmill with no way of getting off. The key that can unlock the door to newness and guide us from darkness to light is forgiveness. John proclaimed a “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Forgiveness enables us to move away from the past and embrace the present.

The transformation of the Grinch and Scrooge are classics. In both stories their worlds became a better place. But in both stories there is one story that doesn’t get as much attention. It’s the fact that the Who’s forgave the Grinch and the townspeople and relatives of Scrooge in London forgave him. Forgiveness, like John the Baptist proclaimed, is at the heart of opening ourselves to God’s spirit. The Christmas spirit can become a reality to you when you accept the forgiveness of God for your past, or you are willing to forgive someone else for theirs.”***

Closing Thoughts

This was Mark’s message – proclaiming Jesus as the Son of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. The prevailing wisdom of the time told the early followers of The Way that they were wrong, that they were crazy. The were persecuted and martyred. Yet, despite this prevailing wisdom, they believed. Like the early Christians, many today call us crazy. But Mark’s words give us hope, and inspire us to change, and encourage us to forgive.

His words were meant to inspire those of his time who faced persecution and martyrdom. But his words also serve to encourage us today. That is the fullness of life that we find in our relationship with Jesus as our Lord. It is through that faith, and through our relationship with Jesus that the Holy Spirit operates in our lives.  It is that faith, that hope, that forgiveness, made possible by the work of the Holy Spirit, that we celebrate when we celebrate the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Scripture

  • Galatians 4:4&5
  • Romans 1:1-4, 4:24, 6:9, 10:9
  • 1 Corinthians 15:4, 15:14, 15:15, 15:20
  • Colossians 4:10
  • Philemon 24
  • 1 Peter 5:13
  • Mark 3:21, 1:1-3

Acknwledgements

*Retired Bishop John Shelby Spong, Author – Born of a Woman

**Dr. Keith Wagner

Join the Discussion

If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to comment.

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

 

Through the Eyes of Mark – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceThrough the Eyes of Mark – Introduction

For time immemorial religious beliefs have been based on faith. It’s just as true today as it was 2000 years ago when the first Christians began proclaiming the Gospel. Perhaps even more so because we’re 2000 years rather than mere decades away from the events that shaped and formed the Christian faith. As we approach Christmas and the celebration of Jesus’ birth, we’ll take a look at what it was like for the first Christians by examining Jesus and His divinity, looking through the eyes of the various writers of the New Testament. We’ll begin by looking Through the Eyes of Mark – the first Gospel writer.

Spiritual Quote

“Faith is believing in something when common sense tells you not to.”
~From the movie, “Miracle On 34th Street”

Planned Scripture

Galatians 4:4&5
Romans 1:1-4, 4:24, 6:9, 10:9
1 Corinthians 15:4, 15:14, 15:15, 15:20
Colossians 4:10
Philemon 24
1 Peter 5:13
Mark 3:21, Mark 1:1-3

Join Us

Join us for worship and fellowship each Sunday at 10:45.

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!