Things to do and things not to do

Ephesians 5 is more family business meaning this is written specifically to those who are following Jesus, to Christians.

Being a Christian is brand new to some of us. What do we do? How do we act? What are the rules?

Here’s a general guideline:”1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Things NOT to do:

Be sexually immoral

Be greedy

Get drunk

Don’t do these.

Instead, Do these:

Be filled the Holy Spirit

Sing

Make music

Give thanks

Wives submit to your husbands like you do to Jesus

Husbands love your wife. be the Christlike man that a woman doesn’t have to fear submitting to. Love your wife like you love you. Love like Jesus did- Die to yourself and live for Jesus and your family. Love your wife. Love your wife like you love you. Love your wife. (I added one more “love your wife” than Paul did, sorry, now two more)

Being a Christian is the simple life. It is not the easy life but it is simple.

Live a life of love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.

Family meeting

Every once in a while our Pastor will say that what he is speaking about is “family business” meaning it pertains to those of of us who are part of that specific body of believers. It is a specific message to a specific group of people.

I feel like Ephesians 4 is a “family business” chapter but not just for the people in Ephesus but all believers everywhere for all time.

I think I just said that it is specifically written to a general group. At least that’s what I intended.

John 3:16 is written to everyone, everywhere. “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.”

Once we decide to follow Jesus we join a new group, the body of Christ. The group of people known as the body of Christ live by a different set of guidelines.

I will use myself as an example. Basically there has been a shift, a change of command has happened. I used to be in charge. I did what I wanted. Now I have given over the control of my life to Jesus.

I’ll let Paul say it, “Living as Children of Light

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. 20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Paul goes on to say how our honesty in word and deed, and our reaction to anger needs to be different now that we are filled with Gods spirit. Our life experiences haven’t changed. We will still face the same temptations and trials that the general population does but now we are empowered to respond differently.

I’d like to quote one more verse that reminds me that when I need to forgive someone, that I too am in constant need of forgiveness.

“32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Watching and waiting

Watch out!

Keep watching, wait for it, wait for it, wait for it. Jesus has been saying watch and wait for 2 millennia. Really? Keep watching? Keep waiting? Why?

“Matthew 24:42-51 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ”

I’m not focusing on the avoidance of punishment as much as I am focused on hearing the words from Jesus, “well done!”

What do we do while we wait? Read magazines in the waiting room ? Nope. We have a job to do.

“Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ‘

Refreshment in the desert

We live in a desert. The Eastern side of Washington state is a desert. It lies in the rain shadow of the Cascade mountains. Our annual rainfall is around 10″. There is very little water here naturally. My Grandpa Loeffelbein’s property in Cashmere out on Pioneer Ave where i spent many a summer day, had a tiny little stream. It was so small that I could jump across it. The odd thing about it that it was always flowing, and it flowed fast. It was not a lazy little trickle. Put your foot in and it would try and knock you over. It took strength to stand in the flow. The water was cold, and the force was steady and strong.

Sometimes my life feels like a desert, arid and dry. Living life sometimes sucks my soul dry. I need a source of refreshing.

Gods love is like that little stream in some aspects. It’s steady, strong, constant, refreshing, water in a desert. It just isn’t little. When my son in law Nathan Dowd preached recently he quoted someone who said “Gods love is an ocean without shores and without bottom.”

“17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Lord I need to know your love today, not just know it but feel it. I need your wisdom and understanding, I’ve got things to do today that go beyond me. Help me Jesus. Fill me up. Refresh me with your boundless endless love.

Peace

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Isaiah 26:3 NIV

This is going to sound stupid but this is one of those verses that bugs me. It bugs me because its sounds like it can’t be true. Like it’s the picture of the imaginary Christian life, the pretend Pollyanna Christian life.

The reason is that I have been utterly terrified before. Waking up after having your head bashed against a dashboard, the vehicle upside down and family members moaning and crying can bring on overwhelming fear. I have been in stark terror.

That car accident has been my scariest moment, but my most blissful peaceful moment came only minutes later. Somehow the people who came to the wreck got me out of the wreckage and put me in an ambulance. As I laid there fear was almost to crazy level which is 5 clicks past 11 on the fear dial, then I heard words,in my head or my heart or my ears I don’t know, the words were “Jesus will take care of you”.

Peace flooded over me and I relaxed. That could be when I died I don’t know. When we arrived at the hospital I was clinically dead, no pulse and not breathing.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Isaiah 26:3 NIV

Maybe in the days since then when I’ve encountered fear, it wasn’t God’s fault, it was mine for losing sight of him. How can we fear if we know the God who said to nothingness “let there be light” and there was light, who created mankind and watched as we as a race defied him, then he provided a way back to him through giving up his only son to be punished in our place. If we know that God, and can keep him in our sights and believe and trust in his existence and receive his persistent love, maybe our souls can experience peace.

Merciful and Just

“I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.”

God is merciful.

For some of us that is the problem. His mercy attracts us but also repels us. If he can forgive me, and welcome me, then what’s to keep him from forgiving and welcoming my enemy? How can he forgive the person who hurt me so deeply? It isn’t fair.

Some of us are stuck in the attraction/repulsion zone. We know what Jesus said about forgiveness, that to receive it we must give it.

“Matthew 6:12-15 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. ”

We get stuck right here.

There are 3 things to consider if we find ourselves stuck, needing forgiveness, but unable to forgive.

1. God knows. He knows our hearts. He also knows what happened. He will take us where we are, how we are. We may not be able to forgive today, but once we are God’s he begins to make us new.

2. God will change us from the inside out. The person that enters a relationship with God through Jesus death for them and his resurrection, will be transformed, from the inside out. Hurts will be healed, slowly, sometimes instantly but always persistently he moves to completeness and wholeness and health. We won’t finish our lives, as we Have started them, once we have given control over to God. Like a master carpenter/engineer/builder remodeling a shambled wreck, he restores, renews, rebuilds us.

3. God is infinitely merciful and he is infinitely Just. We find this in Acts; “Acts 17:26-31 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” ‘

There is still a day of accounting to come. This will be the day when all things wrong get righted. I don’t know how it will work. I know Jesus has paid for my sins so I will not be punished, but somehow he will make up for wrong that I did. His way of Justice will be as perfect as his way of Mercy. He is infinitely powerful and infinitely creative and solutions are unlimited to him.

Today, please consider surrendering to the great God of mercy and let him begin the process of renewal in you.

Hanging by a thread and I ain’t no Spider-Man

It’s Wednesday March 22. Its hump day, the middle of the week. I am anticipating that I have 2 more days until a weekend break, then work a week, then a short vacation, then work/break/ work/ etc for 14 years and then retire then grow old and then die.

That’s what I’m assuming will happen. But what if this is the day that a truck crosses the center line and I don’t make it? What if my extended plans for life don’t work out? What is the most important thing I can do today if it’s my last day here?

What if there is an eternity just the other side of our last exhale? Our breath leaves our lungs and our soul slips out of our body and then what? Heaven? Hell? In light of the fragility of life should I be prepared for eternity?

When Jesus was crucified he was hung on a cross between 2 other criminals, two thieves. All 3 of these men knew eternity was very close. They were swinging on a thread over the chasm of death.

Let us listen in on their conversation.

“32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[c] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[d]”

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”’

What are the words that I can write on this post to encourage people to believe in Jesus and receive him as savior? What can I say?

What do you believe about Jesus?

Did he rise from the dead? Did he pay for our sins with his death? Have you accepted that gift?

Eternity is coming, some call it death and expect it to be an end but the Bible tells us that the end of this life is just a doorway into eternity. Eternity has two options, with God or without him. I highly recommend the with God option.

Eternity yawns beneath us all.

Accept Jesus’ gift today. Today is all we know that we get. Today.