I think I missed a chance to dine with an angel or Jesus

I thought he was drunk. His speech was sluggish and slurred and he seemed a little unstable as he stood up to address us. He had been sitting outside on curb of the sidewalk of the restaurant my friend and I were going into. He addressed us very politely, “excuse me, do either of you have $4.98?” We Both said no. He explained, “I can’t afford to eat in this restaurant but I can get a meal at McDonalds for $4.98..”

We kept walking, It wasn’t lying to say I didn’t have $4.98. I did have 2 $20 dollar bills in my wallet. I intended to get change inside the restaurant and give him a $5 but as we walked in my friend and I decided that giving him $5 could just be enabling an addiction. What we could’ve done, what we should’ve done is say, join us for lunch Jesus.

We entered, were seated and due to the buffet style of dining, were preoccupied with filling our plates. We didn’t see how it happened that the two people seated at a table next to ours were the gentleman from the curb and another man. It was not obvious whether or not the second man knew the man from the curb.

I had the idea to pay for both of their lunches but missed my chance by hesitating.

“For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. 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. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

1 John 3:11-18

In Matthew Jesus talks about those who show by their actions, who their heart belongs to.

“42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”

Matthew 25:42-45

Our gentleman from the curb was polite and courteous to the wait staff and to his host who brought him in and fed him. When he stood up from the table he seemed more steady on his feet than he had been before eating. To my shame I realized what I had seen as symptoms of intoxication and possible addiction were more probably physical impairments.

in Hebrews we see this: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”

Hebrews 13:2-3

I may have missed my chance to dine with an angel. Due to his down trodden appearance he could have into “the least of these” category and so had I treated him to lunch, my friend and I might have had an opportunity to dine with Jesus.

Because of my limited exposure and isolated lifestyle This situation does not come up very often. You can be certain that I will be more watchful.

I very much want to serve my master. Forgive me Lord for missing you that day.

I am, the preexisting one

When you’re down and troubled, and you need a helping hand…..

Who do we call when we need help? How about calling out to the God who preexisted existence?

His name? one name he calls himself, I AM.

Jesus tells us a little about life after death and a little about The character of God in Matthew 22.

“23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”

29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’[b]? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.”

I am. The pre-existing God continues to be the God of people who have died centuries ago. Not because he and they continue in our hearts or in our memories but because they continue to exist in God’s presence.

I AM. God exists outside and beyond the creation, his creation. We can continue to exist beyond our existence. Through Jesus who died and lives again, we can be part of that eternal existence.

Jesus said this in his conversation with Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

The same God who said said, ” let there be….” and there was, is the God who wants us to be with him in eternity. He sent Jesus to pay for our sin on the cross, and then defeat death so if we will admit we need him and receive what he has done as our payment then…

….You know wherever I AM, I’ll come running, running, running, to see you again.

(Thanks James Taylor for letting me borrow your lyrics)

You are also called

And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:6

I am one of those Gentiles called to belong to Jesus Christ. You my reader, unless you are a Jewish believer, are a gentile, called to belong to Jesus.

Imagine this scenario:

You’re ringer is off. You are in a meeting and need to not be disturbed. Then you feel the buzzing. Your phone is vibrating in your pocket. You have to ignore it. It starts buzzing again. You wait it out. Again it starts buzzing, the people who are sitting next to you start giving you disapproving looks. Finally you pull out the phone enough to see the screen. Your Father is calling. Do you answer?

I was a church going kid growing up. I was in a church going family. I thought God and I were close. Then, when I was 8 years old I was badly burned. I recovered but my face and right hand were deformed with scars, I had a weird little hole under my lip and my right ear was folded over. I was disfigured.

I believed in God and his power to heal. So I waited. And I waited some more. I was healthy. I hadn’t lost any functionality but I was noticeably scarred. I thought God had messed up. I didn’t think God caused the accident but I thought he had allowed it. I was miffed at God. I was perturbed, I was disappointed, I was disillusioned, I was… i was disconnected. That’s it. Back in the day when telephones were mounted to the wall and the handset was heavy, and the call was made by dialing, I felt like a little 8 year old boy who, during an ongoing telephone conversation with God, Was suddenly disconnected and all I could hear was a dial tone.

God hung up on me?

I didn’t understand at the time. I became angry and depressed and behaved very badly.

It turned out the it wasn’t a dial tone I was hearing, it was actually God my father saying over and over in a strong whisper, “Peter I love you, Peter I love you, Peter I love you…”

Those familiar verses in the apostle John’s book of good news were also true for me.

I was then, and am now, and will forever be loved by God.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

John 3:16-18

God has made a way through Jesus for all of us Gentiles to be accepted and adopted into his family as his own sons and daughters.

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood —to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished — he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Romans 3:21-26

The call has gone out to all of us Gentiles. Ringer on or ringer off, doesn’t matter. God our Father is persistently calling. Will we answer his call? If al there we hear is dial tone, God is there, reminding us he loves us, the message is so intense and passionate that it sounds like a buzzing whisper, “I love you, i love you, I love you…”

Come to the banquet

He’s talking about us.

In Matthew 22 Jesus was talking to the religious leaders of his day about you and me.

“22 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

“‘So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’”

We are invited to the wedding! God has invited us to the party. In days gone by it wasn’t so easy to become part of God’s family and to be invited in but now through Jesus all we have to do is confess and believe to become part of his family and to be invited to the party.

Paul explains it in his letter to the Romans:

“21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in[h] Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

Then later in his letter he says this:

“But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[e] 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”’

Come today, come to the party, God’s invitation is open to any and all. Welcome.

On our last night in Italy we stayed at a hotel that had a wonderful restaurant. As we entered the restaurant the owner stood at the door with his arms stretched out and said “hello! My name name Guido and this is my restaurant, come in and enjoy!”

That’s how I see God right now waiting for anyone who will hear his voice.

Listen! He’s calling us! Today, Right now, today.

Will you enter? Today?

He loves me too much to leave me like this

“Have done, then, with impurity and every other evil which touches the lives of others, and humbly accept the message that God has sown in your hearts, and which can save your souls. Don’t I beg you, only hear the message, but put it into practice; otherwise you are merely deluding yourselves. The man who simply hears and does nothing about it is like a man catching the reflection of his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, it is true, but he goes on with whatever he was doing without the slightest recollection of what sort of person he saw in the mirror. But the man who looks into the perfect mirror of God’s law, the law of liberty (or freedom), and makes a habit of so doing, is not the man who sees and forgets. He puts that law into practice and he wins true happiness.”

James 1:21-25

I am working on 2 transformation projects right now. My wife and I bought a house in 2006, we loved the house, everything about it, but we have not stopped making changes to it.

The second project I am working on is a 57 Chevy truck that I affectionately call Rusty. Since I was given him i have been in the process of making him better.

As for the house, on our first tour my wife said, “I even like the room colors!” And since then we have painted every room in the house, some more than once.

Rusty was modified from being a 2-Tom flatbed into being a 1/2 ton pickup. I have been in the slow process of making him the best I can. In the early stages I wouldn’t let myself buy another part or piece until I had the last part or piece that I bought installed. I gave up on that and now I have a back log of little projects.

When I came to Jesus I was more like Rusty than our house. I was broken. Jesus accepted me just as I was. He didn’t require me to clean up or shape up or behave better. His gift of salvation was free and freely given.

There’s a verse that the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5 that makes me happy weepy every time i read it.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Romans 5:6-11

I am God’s project. He received me as a broken down human with a truck load of issues and problems. He has slowly been working on me and in me. I have to participate in this process for it to work. On the day i was saved the Holy Spirit took up

Residence in me. I see him as this smart young energetic very positive and solution oriented engineer walking around in my head and my heart with his crisp white shirt and tie, hard hat and safety glasses, carrying a clipboard and making notes on how he can turn my mess into something useful for expanding God’s kingdom. My part in this is reading God’s word, to see what life CAN be, and to listen to and obey God’s Holy Spirit when he says “this can change, we can make this better.”

God’s word has the power to change lives. Starting with my own. I can choose to read it, agree with it and yet not let it change me. OR I can read it, believe it and let it become a change order on the project list that the Holy Spirit keeps on his clipboard. My choice.

Anyone reading this has the same invitation from Jesus, to be forgiven and welcomed into God’s family, and will then begin the restoration of your life.

As I write this it’s Sunday morning and I’m getting ready for church. Another avenue of change is to be connected to and submitted to a group of Christian believers. The Holy Spirit that is resident in them can also speak to us to encourage, direct and guide us.

It’s a process. Will you join me, join us?

The group was disbanding

There were 2 missing. One was dead, suicide, and the other was AWOL.

John 20

Where was the second guy? The group had been tight for 3 years now it seemed to be unraveling.

I speculate that the second guy was being proactive. He was moving on to plan B. Plan A had been a miracle working messiah but he was dead. I think Thomas had seen Jesus body some where, either on the cross or on the way to the tomb.

“Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin,[a] was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The Purpose of This Book

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

I don’t blame Thomas. I have seen dead bodies before. My uncle Charlie and my mom. They don’t look the same. Jesus was dead. But not for long. Thomas said “unless I see, unless I touch”. He got to do that but today we don’t have that option. We do however receive a blessing by believing without seeing.

Jesus suffered and died. He was dead. But he came back to life in a way that a doubter could see and believe.

What do you believe about Jesus?

There is a lot weighing in the balance of your answer. Believe and come home to our Father.

No cape, just a cross

He did it without a cape.

No costume. No mask. No sidekick.

It cost him his life but he did it. Jesus saved the world.

John 19 & 20

Superheroes are doing it all the time, supposedly saving the world but they never fight our two worst enemies; sin and death.

Jesus took on the battle over sin and death and beat them both.

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Jesus’ Side Is Pierced

31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. 36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”’

It doesn’t read like a victory but wait, there’s more to the story.

Jesus rose from the dead.

“11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic,[b] “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.”

From the cross Jesus said “it is finished”. The battle over sin in our lives has been won. Sin wants to enslave us but Jesus paid for all of us and all of it on the cross. What is left for us is to confess our need of forgiveness and to receive the gift. It sounds too simple.

Paul summed it up in his letter to the Romans, ” if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”’

Today could be the day that changes eternity for someone. If you have already received Jesus’ gift then take the next step and tell someone. Once everyone has heard we get to go be with Jesus in the home he has built for us. Maybe the last person that’s waiting to hear the good news is sitting across the aisle from us at work, or lives across the fence from us, next door. We need to Tell our story.

Jesus has defeated sin and death.

No cape, just a cross.