Walking The Walk

Walking where Jesus walked.pngPerhaps no other symbol is more revealing of the journey of Christians through the season of Lent that a pair of Biblical sandals. Sandals speak of our journey through the promises, perils, and pitfalls of life that can only be authentically experienced through “Walking the Walk” of Jesus. To be sure, Jesus was the supreme, historical walker Biblical scholars have estimated that, during his 33 year lifetime, Jesus walked over 21,000 (400 miles from Egypt to Nazareth; 18,000 miles from Nazareth to Jerusalem and back-at least seventy-five times by age 30, and 3,125 miles during his 3 year public ministry, averaging 20-25 miles per day.) And then, of course, there was Jesus 40-day walk in the desert, where he was subjected to three Satanic temptations. All this walking was more that just physical exercise, it was instilling patience, persistence, and soul-sustaining endurance in the one, who in human and Divinely resurrected form, would be God’s eternal model of “the Truth, the Way, and the Life” for the world that followed him in time.

So, how do we-how can we-follow in the footsteps of Jesus during the forty days of the Lenten season? For one thing, we can symbolically emulate Jesus’s pre-ministry walk through the desert-fasting, praying, examining ourselves, and trying to cleanse ourselves of transgressions and wrongdoings that have been haunting us for the past year. Secondly, we can discipline ourselves, through our “walk” through the Lenten season, to focus our thoughts, prayers, and actions squarely on the two greatest commandments that Jesus professed: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and You shall love your neighbor as yourself”  (Matthew 22:37-39) How rewarding it is for those who, on Easter Sunday, can affirm with great Joy and Certainty:

“I walked today where Jesus walked, and felt His presence there!”

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

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How To Forgive

 

Matthew 18   Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”                               Matthew 18:22

It was a rabbinical doctrine that a person had to forgive their fellow man three times. They believed that God’s forgiveness covered three transgressions and that he punished the fourth. Peter, the rash disciple with his impulsive nature, answered his own questions by saying that we should forgive seven times. Peter expected Jesus to compliment him, but Jesus answered that the Christian should forgive seventy times seven. there is indeed no limit to the Christian’s forgiveness.

Jesus tells the story of a servant who was forgiven an enormous debt, yet soon afterwards he had no mercy on a fellow servant who owned him a much smaller debt. This message runs through the entire New Testament like a golden thread: You must forgive others to be forgiven yourself. Those who cannot forgive others dare not expect God’s forgiveness. Godly and human forgiveness must go hand in hand.

In Jesus’ story the fact that stands out in the size of the two people’s debt. The point Jesus is making here is that nothing we do can be compared to what humankind did to God. If God forgives us our sins, we must also forgive others. We were forgiven an enormous debt that we would never have been able to pay, because our sins brought about the death of the Son of the Living God. We can find mercy in God’s eyes only if we forgive others like God forgave us.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

God’s Gift Called Grace

Ephesians 2a.pngBut because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works so that no one can boast.                                                 Ephesians 2:4-9

John Wesley the founder of the Methodist movement, grace was the powerful process by which believes came to experience God and know God’s salvation. Wesley believed grace was ever present and influential in believers coming to repentance. He believed grace could lead believers to love God with all their being and to love neighbors and the world as they loved themselves. Mr. Wesley understood God’s grace as a unified piece, but teaching he defined grace as having three aspects; prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying.

Prevenient Grace: Is the grace that comes to us even before we know God. God showers it upon all people whether they are aware of it or not. Through prevenient grace, God takes the initiative in beginning a relationship with us. Prevenient grace is God’s way of showing us that no matter who we are or where we are, God is already there ahead of us, waiting for us. God’s prevenient grace precedes us wherever we go.

Justifying Grace: Brings a big change to the relationship we have with God. Through justifying grace we begin to realize and trust (have faith) that we are restored to relationship with God. We come to acknowledge our sinfulness and trust that we are forgiven by God’s grace. Just as justifying text in a document aligns it a certain way, (right or left-justified) justifying grace aligns us with God through Jesus Christ. This is when “God reaches out to a person with accepting and pardoning love.” This change includes feelings of peace, hope, and joy. Such as experience “may be sudden and dramatic, or gradual and cumulative. It marks a new beginning, yet it is part of an ongoing process.”

Sanctifying Grace: Prevenient grace is God meeting you at every corner. Justifying grace is God reaching out to you with love. When you say yes to the invitation of justifying grace, you turn a corner in your faith journey. One of the most controversial teachings of the early Methodist movement was that it is possible for us to realize Christian perfection in this life, perfect love, loving perfectly. Wesley called this process “going on to Christian perfection,” or sanctifying grace. This part of grace challengers believers to go deeper in faith, to love the world more energetically, and to keep growing in the knowledge and love of God. For Wesley, God’s sanctifying grace led believers to have their hearts “habitually filled with the love of God and neighbor. For you, this might mean coming to understand your life as more and more focused on living by faith. Faith becomes the center out of which you live. Little by little, God’s sanctifying grace uncovers more and more of God’s image in you. As one who has been forgiven, you become more forgiving. As one who is loved, you become more loving. Wesley emphasized that we are continually filled with God’s love, we are led more fully to acts of mercy and works of justice.

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends npoty

God Remembers Your Sins No More!

Isaiah 43.pngWash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Through your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; through they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.                       Isaiah 1:16-18

I enjoy reading many books by Max Lucado a Christian author, and I have been reading his one book called “God Came Near” during this advent season. In the one chapter that I have read which is called “He Forgot” it made be think of the words from the book of Isaiah 43:25 I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my won sake, and remember your sins no more. Wow, Now that is something to talk about, God doesn’t just forgive us for our sins, he forgets them, he erases the board, he destroys the evidence. He doesn’t remember our mistakes. ( I can say thank goodness). For all the things he does do, this is one thing he refuses to do. He refuses to keep a list of our wrongs. When we ask for forgiveness, he doesn’t pull out a clipboard and say,” But I’ve already forgiven you for that at least a hundred times.” He doesn’t remember. ” As far as the east is from the west, so far he has removed our transgressions from us. Psalms 103:12 Do you think God is the voice that reminds you of the putridness of your past? Do you think God was teasing when he said “I remember your sins no more? Do you actually believe he would make a statement like ” I will not hold their in iniquities against them” and then rub our noses in them whenever we ask for help? Of course you don’t. You and I just need an occasional reminder of God’s nature, his forgetful nature. Think about this for a moment, if he didn’t forget our sins, how could we pray to him, or better yet worship him and sing praises to him, God is the “Great I Am”.  Let us remember the scriptures I shared with you as well as another from Hebrews 8:12 For I will forgive their wickedness, and will remember their sins no more.”

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Praise the Lord

Habakkuk.1As I had my time alone with God I once again came across the book of Habakkuk which is in the Old Testament, where this book ends with Habakkuk’s prayer of praise. Through the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, through the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, through there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in God my Savior.                    Habakkuk 3:17-18

To Praise our God, the God of Creation the Great I Am during the difficulties that we are facing is never an easy thing to do, however, it is the only right thing to do. You probably saying to yourselves boy is this person a little crazy. When I go thru many storms I try to do this one thing to Turn My Eyes Upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace. During my own storms in life when I stop and sing or say these words the focus immediately goes to Jesus and not the problems. I remember how much I am loved, how I am a child of the Most High King, and remember the words that the Apostle Paul had written in the book of Ephesians 2:4-5 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.

Denied

Rooster.png

Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you. Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times!                               John 13:37-38

Wow! these are hard words for Peter to hear from Jesus especially after reading Matthew 16:13-16 when Peter declares that Jesus is the Son of the Living God and now to hear that he will deny this same man. However Jesus knew what was about to happen even thro Peter did not. Let’s visit that evening with the disciples, it was after Jesus was arrested, John 18:15-19 Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in. You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you? she asked Peter. He replied, “I am not.” It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them warming himself.

Second time and Third Time-John 18-25-27 Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him,” You aren’t one of the disciples too are you? He denied it, saying, “I am not. One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden? Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow. And he went outside and wept bitterly.  Matthew 26:69-75                                                                                                      It can be hard to imagine the pain that Peter was feeling inside of himself at that very moment or is it? Haven’t we at one time or another in our own lives disown Jesus ourselves, thinking to ourselves I don’t need you God, I can do it all on my own, but we truly can’t, can we?  Jesus did warned his disciples in John chapter 16:16 In a little while you will see me no more, and than after a little while you will see me.” Yes Jesus was talking in parables once again but his disciples could never imagine what was about to take place to someone they all came to know and love so well was about to be crucified, and that one of their own Judas Iscariot was going to be trade Jesus. This was the very reason that Jesus came into this world to save us from our sins. The prophet Isaiah foretold what would happen.

Isaiah 53:3-5 (NIV)

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces, he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his stripes we are healed.

Jesus love you and I so much that he took our place on the cross, so that we would never be separated from God because of our sins.

 

Grace and Peace to You my Friends