Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Thoughts from our Study in Ephesians


We have a lot of division in the world. Just watch the news for five minutes and the "us vs. them" tone is everywhere. Politics and social issues can make for some difficult conversations for a born-again Christian. Liberal? Conservative? Foreign? Domestic? Democrat? Republican? These designations have a lot to do with what men have decided in order to break us into camps and teams. 

     As we read through Ephesians, we also see two groups of people, the Jews, and the Gentiles. They are separated by culture and belief until Jesus comes and provides a sacrifice for both Jews and Gentiles (sometimes called Greeks in older translations). When God's plan of salvation is being revealed to the Jews over time, it's pretty clear that "God's chosen people" are the ones for whom the salvific works of God are intended. Jesus even says to a woman in the New Testament "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs," (Matt. 15:26). Harsh! What happens next is an indication of the work Paul would be doing later. The woman realizing that Jesus was referring to the fact that she was not a Jew, says to Jesus, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." She recognizes that even the crumbs from Jesus' table are more nourishing (spiritually speaking) than anything from any other source. Jesus responds to the woman by complimenting her faith and healing her as she wanted.

The Apostle Paul would be the apostle to the Gentiles and would bring the gift originally intended for the Jews (who largely rejected it) to the Gentiles. What Jesus does for humanity is to make the line that divides us, a lifeline that joins us together. Through his blood, his sacrifice, he makes a way for all of us to have that food intended for the children...because we are also the children. He becomes our brother, God our Father, and heaven our home.

11Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

We are one in Christ. The people who are struggling to separate us and put us into different groups and tribes miss the importance of the true unity in Jesus. We are one because He is one and we are in Him. Think about that when you hear talk about separation, ideology, or denomination. What Jesus did for us primarily is save us from the penalty of sin, and summarily he unifies us in that hope. We are together, in Him.

Think about that!





Fearless Leader


Saturday, April 4, 2020

Sunday School April 5 Here!

Sorry for the terrible audio. It sounded fine until I uploaded it. I'll try to figure it out for nest time.

Paul made the best of his quarantine

Hey Gang!
   It's my third week of Spring Break and I am getting a taste of what retirement might be like (except when you have retired you aren't trapped in your house). We still haven't gotten together for a Zoom meeting just to hang out, but I haven't let the idea go yet. Kyle and Seth and I are working on a podcast that we hope to give a try pretty soon. I have graded papers and checked my email and the news a thousand times because the word seems to be changing every five minutes. I hope you have a handle on that.
     I want to talk to you about a guy named Paul of Tarsus from the Bible. Paul also spent some time in quarantine except his quarantine was called prison. For a righteous dude, he certainly did a lot of jail time. When Paul was stuck inside, he had an interesting approach to his long hours; he used them to serve God.
   Now, how can someone serve God locked up in jail? He wrote a series of letters commonly referred to as  The Prison Epistles.  These were the four letters Paul wrote when he was on house arrest in Rome. Three of the letters are named for the churches they were sent to in Ephesus (Ephesians), Philippi (Philippians), Colossae (Colossians), and one was named for Philemon written to a man of the same name whom Paul trusted to deliver his messages. Paul wasn't just killing time with his old-school text messages, he was addressing problems in the churches he had set up. He admonished, encouraged, called people out by name and made requests for stuff he needed. If you can get over the fact that we're reading someone else's mail, you'll find lots of instructional, encouraging, wise words in these and other books Paul wrote.
   Paul asked the question all Christians should ask who are facing tough times; "How does God want me to handle this?" Paul is a witness to all he encounters and that included those assigned to guard him. Paul writes:

12I want you to know, brothers,e that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guardf and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the wordg without fear.           Phil 1: 12-14

He used his time to encourage, to offer help, to offer prayer and to request it for himself. Couldn't you use some prayers? What do you need? Let everyone know. We have time on our hands! Paul encouraged his friends to make the best use of the time for Christ's sake. You can do that too. You have email, texting, Instagram, Snap-chat, yada-yada-yada! Be involved in encouraging one another in Christ.Paul says:
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.5Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Col. 4:2-6
I'm looking forward to seeing y'all when the pandemic is under control. Pray for your nation, your leaders and those who are ill. Pray also for those who work tirelessly to treat and care for them. Also, pray fr the elders who need to ake good leadership decisions for your local church. We would appreciate it. Take care! Wash your hands! I love ya.
In Christ



Fearless Leader