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In today’s reading from John 1:1-18 NKJV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (4) In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. (5) And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (6) There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. (7) This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. (8) He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. (9) That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. (10) He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. (11) He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. (12) But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: (13) who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (14) And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (15) John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ “ (16) And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. (17) For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (18) No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
We hear “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God.” In Genesis 1:3 we read: “Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” God said and the creation was. That is how the Bible shows us God, it is the way in which God reveals Himself to us, and it is the way in which we see that God keeps His word.
So many of us, want some kind of proof of God’s being, of God caring, yet that evidence is all around us and we don’t see it. There are schools of thought that want us to believe that God created the world and everything in it and then left it to its own devices, but scripture tells us that God acted throughout history. When God first created the world, He also created a man and a woman, in His own image they were created. We read this in the first chapter of Genesis, where God says: “Let us make man in our image…..male and female created He them.” He then goes on to put them in the garden to till it and to care for it. However there is more to it than that, God also was the one who came and walked with them in the garden in the cool of the evening. God did not create man and woman to be robots but to be God’s own companions. Why would God create a companion and then go off to someplace else and abandon His companion?
Later, when they sinned and God banished them from the garden, He was still around. When Cain killed his brother, God was there to judge the actions, and to mitigate the punishment. When man became so depraved that God grew weary of him and his activity, He also acted to save a remnant through Noah and his family. Is that a God who has forgotten about His creation? Again we find God calling Abram to come out of Ur and go to a land he was not familiar with, then walking with Abraham and talking with him in a personal way. We find that God came and ate a meal with Abraham and even that Abraham had a conversation where he was able to speak to God as you and I would to one another. Remember the conversation? “God would you destroy the city if there were 50 righteous people, or 40 or 10?” God spoke to Abraham as to a friend, as to a companion, as to one He loved. God came and wrestled with Jacob and called him Israel, that is one of those great stories in the Old Testament, God comes down to wrestle with His people, to talk with them and to help them to understand.
The Bible is full of these wonderful stories, stories that help us to understand God and that help us to see how the people of God have changed their own understanding of God through the centuries, reading today in Jeremiah 31:7-14 we find a wonderful example of God’s working with His people. In verses 10-14 we read:
Jeremiah 31:10 through Jeremiah 31:14 (NLT)
10″Listen to this message from the LORD, you nations of the world; proclaim it in distant coastlands: The LORD, who scattered his people, will gather them together and watch over them as a shepherd does his flock. 11 For the LORD has redeemed Israel from those too strong for them. 12 They will come home and sing songs of joy on the heights of Jerusalem. They will be radiant because of the many gifts the LORD has given them—the good crops of wheat, wine, and oil, and the healthy flocks and herds. Their life will be like a watered garden, and all their sorrows will be gone. 13 The young women will dance for joy, and the men—old and young—will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing. 14 I will supply the priests with an abundance of offerings. I will satisfy my people with my bounty. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
God did just that, He brought His people back from their captivity to again inhabit the land. Yet God’s people just as quickly forget that they are God’s people and sink, over and over again into apostasy. Not only the Jews of ancient times but you and I today. We forget that God is sovereign, that God is present, we don’t really want God to be present, except when it comes time to collect on the promises. Yes we want the goodies but we don’t want the responsibility of being a people set apart for a good work. We like to accept the gift of God, the life of His Son as our redeemer, but, since Jesus has already done the work we want to just rest on that, and go on and do as we please with no repercussions. It didn’t work for the people of Israel, it will not work for you and I.
The truth is that we look back at what God has done in the past for His people, Israel, and we think we are better than they are, that because Jesus died on the cross, all persons will be saved, all will be OK. We expect God to have infinite mercy without Justice, but that has never been so, and will not be so today either. God requires of those who would follow Him to do Justice as well as Mercy. For He is a Just God as well as a merciful one.
Just as God looked for the people of Israel to be changed into new persons, just as He looked for them to be holy, and to do justice to one another and to those who lived in the land, so to does He expect us to be holy and righteous. We read in Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus that God has adopted us into His family in Christ, that we have a purpose and that purpose is to praise God and to be His people. All of the gospel centers around our being God’s people, set apart for good works, and for holy living.
God tells us that we are His, because of the redemptive acts of Jesus Christ, and that we are to be a holy people, set apart, not to be a people of the society around us, but rather we are to influence that society so that it will be changed as well. We who have received the Spirit of God and have been transformed into the image of Christ, are also the recipients of eternal life in the presence of God, through that same Jesus Christ. We have received the gifts of the Spirit as we are told by Paul, and those gifts help us to live in a way that sets us apart and helps us to bring the gospel to those around us.
In remembering that past, and in looking forward to that future where we will be in the presence of our savior always, we will today renew our covenant with God and with one another, simply because we need to remind ourselves and each other who it is we are. We have taken on a name, we have taken on a task, and we have said that we will be the people of God. After we renew that covenant we will also partake of the communion meal, and have a time of fellowship together with one another, a time for us to renew ourselves and to remind each other that we are family, we have been adopted into the family of God and as such are brothers and sisters together in this journey toward the promised land.
Let us come together today, as we renew our covenant with one another and with God, and as we participate in the Eucharist understanding that we are moving toward a bright and beautiful future, because God has acted, is acting and will continue to act in the lives of His people. We are striving for perfection, perfection in love that we might perfectly reflect the love of Christ in our lives and for those around us. Let your light shine beloved that the world around you may come to know that Jesus Christ is alive and well right here where you are.
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Jas 5:14 ”Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (ESV)
As I was in prayer this morning about a prayer ministry in our county, God impressed upon me that my counterpart another prayer warrior, needed to be in prayer for our ministry also. Now I have been in conversation with my Lord many times over the years, and sometimes I don’t hear him as well as I did today. He always answers the prayers, because we are in conversation together. In other words, I don’t just pray and then walk away, I like to listen to hear what my Lord will say to me. It is interesting that we Christians like to tell God what we want, but we don’t wait to hear what God has for us.
It is a difficult thing this being in conversation, with other people as well as with God, since we seem to want to be sure that whoever we are talking with, hears what we have to say, but for some reason, we don’t want to wait for them to speak to us. I sometimes watch “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox news at night, and I get irritated when he interrupts his guest and won’t let them speak unless it is what he wants to hear. I understand it is his show and he gets to set the rules, but to me, it is awfully rude to ask someone a question, and when they begin to work out where they want to go with the answer, they are not allowed to do so. They are in the “No-Spin Zone” as O’Reilly says. Of course if they are saying things that are not truthful or that are shaded as to the truth, I think I can probably figure that out by listening to the entire conversation.
Now, let me say, this used to be me. I knew my own truth and if you didn’t toe my line, well I wouldn’t let you speak. I was a rude and obnoxious person, then the Lord made it clear to me that I was rude and obnoxious. I try now to be the kind of person God wants me to be, sometimes I will slip, but I feel that gentle nudge in my heart that says I am slipping. I go back to listening rather than controlling the conversation. James puts it really well when he tells us that we are to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another, that we may be healed. He is not necessarily talking about physical healing, but rather soul healing. Jesus always worked to heal souls as well as bodies. I realized that when God made me think about what was being said in these healing times of Jesus. Hear this encounter:
Mar 10:51 “And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.”
What a powerful statement, your faith has made you well. Note that the blind man who received his sight not only was physically healed but then wanted to follow Jesus. How many of these people were healed in their souls and spread the news that the Messiah had come? We don’t know since we don’t know how many people were actually healed and went on to speak of the Healer. The blind man, btw offered up a prayer of supplication, Mar 10:47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Jesus had compassion, how often do we pray, and wait to hear what God will say to us? I’m afraid that it is not nearly as often as we should. Brethren, take time out of your busy schedule to spend time with God today, to be in conversation with the one who loves you, and wants to share your life with you. Let me know how well you do when you converse with our Heavenly Father.
God bless and keep you, this day and all days.
the end of the Journey of Immanuel – God with us. Jesus will spend Thursday evening with his disciples at the traditional Seder/Passover meal. Then they will go to a place to pray and there he will be arrested. This is the beginning of the persecution that Jesus will suffer. He is brought before the Religious leaders, the High Priest and members of the Sanhedrin. They accuse him of blasphemy and the guards hit him as he is being questioned. Later in the early morning he is brought before the Roman Governor, who has him sent to Herod, who sends him back to Pontius Pilate. After some time, he is scourged, at least 39 lashes of the whip, they crown him with thorns, and finally they bring him back out to Pilate. Pilate offers to release either Jesus or Barabbas. The crowd calls for the killer Barabbas, and Pilate asks what they want him to do with Jesus. The crowd calls out – “Crucify him, Crucify him.” Pilate orders him crucified, and on Friday morning he is led to Golgotha and is nailed to a cross.
Death is excruciating. takes hours for Jesus to die, and then the centurion to insure he is dead, stabs him in the side with a spear. He is buried in the tomb of a man called Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus.
This is the end of this part of the Journey with Jesus. More however is to come, Easter Sunday will come and we will again speak of Jesus and the Journey.