Who will God save?

1 Timothy 1

Timothy, that young man that joined Paul and Barnabas in Lystra. He is now Pastoring the church in Ephesus.

Paul calls him “a true son in the faith”.

This is a tough town. It’s where Paul & Silas got thrown into prison for setting a slave girl free from her demonic possession. Then they had church in chains and were set free by a God Ordained earthquake.

Paul was asked to leave the city but he sent Timothy back in.

This letter is advice to pastor in the thick of it and to a young man living in a sensual city.

We’ll get to the advice later, I was impressed with this in my reading this morning.

Paul sums up his life and ministry I chapter 1.

“12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Yes Paul, what you said. To the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Yes.

The gospel equalizes us all. We are all sinners who need a savior. Jesus has died for all of us. The state of grace, being forgiven, is a confession of need and an acceptance of his gift away.

Who will God save? He saved me. Has he saved you yet? He wants to. He wants all of us to come to him. That’s why he sent Jesus, he sent Jesus to save each one of us. He won’t give up on us until we are done with life.

 

(Originally posted 11/06/15)

Silent night

But was it? The night that Jesus was born, was it a silent reverent night? Maybe the hymn writer pondered that as he wrote the lyrics.

Silent night, Holy night, all is calm, all is bright. Round yon virgin, mother and child, Holy infant, so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.

I quoted verse one from memory. I have been singing this song at Christmas time for as long as I can remember.  The music is beautiful and the message of the song is simple.

Two points to think about, Holy infant and a virgin mother. Mary, who had never been with a man, gave birth to a baby. How was that possible? The baby was God, in human flesh. God chose to live the life of a human, to live among us, live as one of us. He will live, and love, and heal and teach and serve, and then he will die a gruesome death on the cross. That death was for no crime or sin of his own. He died to pay the price for my sin. He died to pay the price for our sin, all of us, all humans who have ever lived and will ever live. He lived, he died and then, most important of all, he rose from the dead.

Silent night! Holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar,
heav’nly hosts sing: “Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born!”

3 Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light
radiant beams from Thy holy face
with the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth!
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth!

4 Silent night! Holy night!
Wondrous star, lend thy light;
with the angels let us sing
“Alleluia” to our King:
“Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born.”

It’s a big deal. The promised one, the messiah, the redeemer has now been born. God is with us.

Mary recorded an instrumental version of Silent night on her album. Here is an opportunity to take a few minutes and just listen and ponder this wondrous thing that God has done.

Christ the Savior is born.

The rest of the story

Acts 28

The final chapter but it isn’t the end.

Paul and crew arrive safely on Malta. They winter there. While there Paul shows Gods love and power by getting bit by a snake and not dying and healing all of the sick on the island.

Life is more than cause and effect. Karma doesn’t work. “3 Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. 6 The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.”

What I’m getting out of this is that Life is neither random nor predictable. Our life and our time is ordered by God.

Paul finally arrived in Rome and was able to stay in a rented house under Roman guard. He first went to the Jewish population, when some rejected his message he went to the Gentiles.

“30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!”

What was next for Paul? Well he wrote most of the New Testament. And then? Tradition says he died for his faith.

“Concerning the time, place, and manner of his death, we have little certainty. It is commonly believed that, when a general persecution was raised against the Christians by Nero, about A.D. 64, under pretence that they had set Rome on fire, both St. Paul and St. Peter then sealed the truth with their blood; the latter being crucified with his head downward; the former being beheaded, either in A.D. 64 or 65, and buried in the Via Ostiensis. ”

Thanks for following with me as we read through Acts. I’

May God bless your day.

(Originally posted 11/05/19)

Christmas lullaby

I have never been to a Midnight mass. I grew up Lutheran, we didn’t have mass, we had church service. I was about ten when my mom took us to midnight service. It was strange being at church, at night. I was sleepy and a little grumpy. It was Christmas and instead of opening presents, or dumping out my stocking, or eating treats I was at church. But even in my childish moodiness I remember an awe and reverence during the service with singing and the liturgy.

My wife Mary recorded Tàladh Chríosda which is also known as the Christ child lullaby. Mary sings the first part in Gaelic. The tune will get stuck your head, it is beautiful. It is a traditional Scottish midnight mass Christmas carol.

For some of my readers it may be too early to think about Christmas. In many minds in the US we have Thanksgiving Day, then and only then we move on to Christmas.

I would like to change that up. Mary’s Christmas album is called “The Whole Year Long”. Her message was and is that celebrating Jesus can be and maybe should be a year long practice.

No matter where you live or how you celebrate the upcoming holiday season, I hope that you will take a few minutes and click on the link and listen to my wife’s beautiful voice sing this lovely lullaby for the Christ child.

 

Not a straight line

Acts 27

Luke Aristarchus and Paul along with 273 sailors soldiers and prisoners set sail that day…I really want to sing “for a three hour tour..” But it was towards Rome. Things did not go well.

A really bad storm came up. Luke says, “when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we gave up all hope of being saved.”

Storms are a part of sailing. Troubles and trials are a part of life. Every life will encounter them. How will we respond?

Paul was told by Jesus that he would go to Rome. Then while on the ship he was encouraged again by an Angel.

“Last night an angel of God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you’.

It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t without struggle or peril. “42 The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. 43 But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. 44 The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely.”

There is no standard or rule that I can see that God uses to get people where he wants them and we do not know how our patience and confidence in an unseen God is affecting those around us. An all-knowing God makes plans that baffle the unknowing people who serve him. Yet, he cares, yet He sees, yet he knows and provides.

They say the shortest distance between point a and point b is a straight line. Efficiency is not Gods main concern. He doesn’t always take the straight line to get me to where he wants me. I think I can safely say this, if we are his, we are, right now right where he wants us. Even if we have strayed, God knows where we are and can use our present situation for His glory. I am right where he wants me. Today that is a very uncomfortable spot. I am out on a figurative ledge way beyond my comfort zone, not even in the same ZIP code as my comfort zone. Help me Jesus. Use me while I’m here. But don’t leave me here.

(Originally posted 11/04/15)

Childlike wonder

My wife and I live in eastern Washington state. Our state is divided north to south by the mighty and glorious cascade mountains. What that means to us is that all the rain that Seattle Washington is famous for usually stays on the western side of the state. Our side, the east side, is a dry desert caused by the rain shadow effect of the cascade mountains. It makes the area dry and mostly treeless and in the winter it can be very drab and monotone and monotonous. It gets cold here, it just doesn’t always snow. When it does snow our little desert becomes a fairly land of sparkles and snow drifts.

Image result for eastern washington in winter

Our granddaughter Molly Dowd wrote a song about the miracle of transformation that happens for us when it snows. Her grandma Mary wrote some verses and then they recorded this delightful little tune for all of us to enjoy.  It is Molly and Mary singing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5gI5VRgmA8 white sheet of snow.

Please sit back and relax and remember, or if you have never experienced snow, imagine the transformation miracle of a white sheet of snow over a bland and bleak landscape.

Paul on trial

Acts 26

Paul’s trial before King Agrippa.

We hear more of what happened on the road to Damascus. We get more of the conversation.

“12 “On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic,[a] ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’

15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’

“ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’”

Paul loved God. He grew up

Loving God and learning about him. During his days persecuting the church he was defending the God he loved from attack, or so he thought.

It seems as though Judaism was a vehicle to bring us Jesus who is the fulfillment of all the promises of the past. Kind of like the ark of Noah binging mankind from one place to another. We don’t still live in the ark but we still live because of the ark.

As Paul said, “22 But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”’

“29 Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”’

So I invite you to receive Jesus gift of forgiveness for your sins. Today. I did it by just admitting that I needed forgiveness and then acknowledging that Jesus gift was for me too.

Thank you Jesus for your ongoing work in my life. I fail you so often yet you are always faithful to forgive.

(Originally posted 11/3/15)