When there is a moment that causes you to take notice, then take notice! Pause and take a journey around the kairos circle to determine if God is trying to catch your attention, and if so, then what?
What is it? Where is it from? Can we do it? How?
This Saturday, 5:00-8:00pm at the Reid Family Farm. Bring food for you and yours, bring friends, chairs, musical instruments, and come to have fun, sing campfire songs, tell or listen to stories, play games, and the zip line is available too!!!
Sorry to cancel this Saturday’s campfire – a family event pulled rank. Hope to see y’all next Wednesday at 5:30!
This summer, we’ll talk about finding the real ‘you’, the ‘you’ God created before the world had its way with you. We’ll talk about the ground rules God laid with the Ten Commandments. We’ll talk about the changes that came about with the coming of Jesus, and how those ground rules were re-interpreted by him. We’ll talk about dirt – the kind where seeds take root and multiply – and what that means for you and me. And we’ll also talk about how all this talk might have a lasting, transforming impact on our lives going forward. And as always, there’s time for many random questions and fun facts.
2019 is starting off with the series Three F Words: Faith, Forgiveness, and Flourishing. God’s desire for us is to flourish! Learn more at Cornerstone gatherings this winter/spring in a friendly non-judgmental setting open to skeptics and dreamers alike.
What’s so GOOD about the GOOD NEWS?
The Disciples Finally Get It
Read Luke 24 from The Message (MSG) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=luke+24&version=MSG
Easter on April fool’s Day – How appropriate! The disciples didn’t know what to make of things – like life had played a nasty joke on them. But God keeps his word even when it involves things that seem impossible.
There are some things that we can accept as being scientifically provable: Jesus was a real person who existed some 2000 years ago. Everything about Jesus was unique: The prophecies of His coming. His birth. His life. His teachings. His miracles. Everything about him was so different that he upset the status quo of his time and he ended up getting killed for it. But the story didn’t end there. His resurrection is history’s most significant event ever. Everything else about Jesus is hinged on the Resurrection.
Evidence for the Resurrection
- 1st, Jesus predicted His resurrection. The Bible records, “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things … and be killed, and be raised up on the third day” (Matthew 16:21). Even though His followers did not understand what He was telling them at the time, they remembered His words and recorded them.
- 2nd, Jesus made numerous appearances to His followers. He comforted the mourners outside His tomb on Sunday morning. On the road to Emmaus, He explained things about Himself from the Old Testament. Later, He ate in their presence and invited them to touch Him. Scripture records that Jesus was seen by more than 500 at one time. It might be possible that a few people agreed to a deception, but how can one explain the collaboration of 500 people?
- 3rd, the unrelenting faith of the disciples. Those disciples who were once so afraid that they deserted their Lord now courageously proclaimed this news, risking their lives to preach. Their bold and courageous behavior does not make sense unless they knew with absolute certainty that Jesus had been raised from the dead. In part, the mystification of the disciples — presumably the ones who would have spirited away the corpse if it were all a hoax — is the most compelling evidence of the accuracy of these events. Why argue something so improbable, and so unexpected, unless they believed it had actually happened the way they told the story?
- 4th, the growth of the Christian church. Peter’s first sermon, which dealt with Christ’s resurrection, stirred people to receive Him as their living Savior. Luke records the thrilling results: “That day there were added about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). And that group of believers has multiplied until now it reaches around the world.
- Finally, the testimony of hundreds of millions of transformed lives through the centuries shows the power of the Resurrection. The most conclusive proof for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is that He is living within believers today in all of His resurrected life and transforming power.
The Resurrection sets Christianity apart. No other religious leader has broken the power of death and conquered sin.
Significance of the Resurrection
The Resurrection confirms that Jesus is who He claimed to be. Let us consider the magnitude of this event:
- The Resurrection proved that Christ was divine. The fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross does not prove in itself He is God. Jesus proved His deity by fulfilling the prophecies of His death and by His return from the grave. The Bible declares that “by being raised from the dead [Christ] was proved to be the mighty Son of God, with the holy nature of God Himself” (Romans 1:4, The Living Bible).
- The Resurrection proved Christ’s power to forgive sin. The Bible asserts, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). By rising from the dead, Jesus proved His authority and power to break the bonds of sin and to assure forgiveness and eternal life to all who accept His gift of salvation.
- The Resurrection revealed Christ’s power over death. The Bible records, “Christ rose from the dead and will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him” (Romans 6:9, TLB). The Resurrection secured our victory over death as well and “lifted us up from the grave into glory along with Christ, where we sit with him in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 2:6).
- The Resurrection defeated God’s enemy. From the moment of his original rebellion until the day of the Cross, the devil fought viciously and cunningly to overthrow the kingdom of God. Satan must have thought he had dealt the final and decisive blow in this age-old war. But this was the devil’s most serious miscalculation. The Cross was heaven’s triumph. And when Jesus Christ arose, the power of sin and death was forever shattered. Because of the Resurrection, Christians need never fear Satan or death again.
Completion of Redemption
The Book of Acts records that, on the Mount of Olives, Jesus tells His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they were filled with the Holy Spirit and then to take His message to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the world (Acts 1:4,5,8). Immediately after, He rose skyward and disappeared into the clouds, leaving the disciples staring after Him in amazed wonder. The ascension of Christ was the final act in the drama of redemption. His mission completed, Jesus Christ was exalted to His former glory.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ ranks as history’s most revolutionary event. One cannot deny that He shook the world in His day. But His life just as dramatically has shaped the course of history in our time. The Resurrection is the final proof that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be.
Why would God lead us into temptation? That would not be a loving thing to do for a loving God!! What gives? The Greek word is the same for test and temptation!!! A test is meant to improve a person’s character. A temptation is meant to entice a person to sin. It matters who is behind it – whether it’s a test or a temptation, and also how we respond.
The evil one seeks to turn tests into temptations. It is very subtle and unrelenting. So the prayer could be translated as, “Father, you know that we cannot stand up to much pressure. As you lead us to the test (all of life is a test) as you seek to prove and improve our faith, do not let the test become a temptation, a seduction to sin, but deliver us from the subtle wiles of the deceiver against whom we are no match.”
So why does God test us? Because life, real life that is worth living, is found in trusting God – letting him be king of our lives, submitting, trusting, loving, enjoying…. So God tests our trust for him by putting challenging circumstances in our life and see how much we actually do trust him and not in ourselves. The quality of our lives is a function of the quality of our trust in the one who made us. A test is a situation in which we may fall, but in which we ideally come out victorious: stronger and wiser, trusting God more.
The evil one doesn’t like God and doesn’t want us to like him either. He wants us to doubt the goodness of God. Once we doubt that, the rest is easy: chaos, violence, addiction… Satan uses 5 strategies:
- Sowing seeds of suspicion
- Focusing on the negative
- Helps us make false deductions from the negative
- Force the Father’s hand – nut God doesn’t play that game at all
- Take things into our own hands.
So Paul writes in Ephesians 6:10-16: 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Who is Satan?
In Job 1:6ff. a figure appears who is referred to not merely as satan, Hebrew for “an adversary,” but as hassatan, ” The Adversary.”
The New Testament expands on this theme by describing Satan or the devil as “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30), “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4), and “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). This is the basis for the church’s claim that Satan has been granted temporary dominion over the earth (see also Luke 4:5-7).
The apostle Peter applies this teaching directly to the everyday experience of believers. He writes, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8, 9).
James agrees: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Satan, then, though he is extremely powerful, has not been given complete control of the earth. People are free to choose whether they will follow him or remain loyal to their Creator.
Luke 10:17-20 refers briefly to Satan’s fall
Why Does God Allow Satan to Attack Us?
Almost everyone wonders why God has done things as He has, but there are almost never any answers in the Bible. The Bible tells us the things we need to know to live holy and moral lives, but it does not attempt to explain or justify God’s actions.
One possible answer is that God allows Satan to test us to see if we are truly committed to practicing our faith (Job 1:8-12, Matthew 7:21-23, 1 Peter 1:6-7). It is easy to say we believe and trust in God and Christ, but our actions demonstrate our true motives and beliefs.
God tells us to turn to him and renounce the occult
Many people, including Christians, think it’s harmless to look at astrological charts or engage in various forms of spiritism. They think it is fun or entertaining.
Others look to astrology, divination, and mediums for guidance, not just entertainment.
But God clearly warns against such practices in many Bible verses. Some reasons the Scriptures warn against engaging in any form of the occult:
- We are opening ourselves up to spirits other than God’s.
- We are not looking to God for guidance, but to the occult.
- We are turning away from true faith in Jesus.
- We are disobeying God’s word, the Bible.
Bible Verses on the Occult – To be forewarned is to be properly armed.
- “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes His son or daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures up spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-13)
- “And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them …” (Deuteronomy 4:19)
- “Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:31)
- “And the person who turns after mediums and familiar spirits, to prostitute himself with them, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from his people.” (Leviticus 20:6)
- “So Saul died for His unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord because He did not keep the word of the Lord, and also because He consulted a medium for guidance.” (1 Chronicles 10:13)
- The idols speak deceit, diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd. (Zechariah 10:2)
New Testament Christians turned from sorcery. May their example serve as an inspiration and a warning: Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. (Acts 19:18-20)
Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Why do some people say debts? Some trespasses? Some sins? – The Greek word most closely translates to mean debt – but not just financial debt. It is debt in the widest sense of the word. If you do a job for someone, they are indebted to you – that sort of thing.
The Greek word for ‘forgive’ also comes from the financial world – to wipe the slate clean, to cancel the debt.
The debt that we owe is obedience. God who created us calls us into relationship. Because he created us, he knows what’s best for us, so he gave us guidelines. The 10 commandments are not restricting – they open life so that it can be lived fully, freely, in relationship to God. But we all fail. We all owe God a great debt. And not only to God. Every time we fail in our relationship to God, we fail in a human relationship. When we steal, covet, commit adultery, swear – we hurt people and we hurt God – relationships break down. The debt grows.
What we have in this section of the Lord’s Prayer is a simile, both in English and Greek. This comparison centers on the word “as.” With just these two simple letters we have a huge comparison. The problem with “as” is that we often use it to mean “while.” We can say “as I was walking down the street” — but what we really mean is “while I was walking down the street.” That makes us think that Jesus isn’t making a comparison here. If we had translated the Greek word as “like” this would not happen. We would read “Forgive us our sins LIKE we forgive others.” There would be no question.
Just two verses earlier Jesus used the same word when talking about heaven and earth. He has already told us that God’s will should be enacted on earth just like it is in heaven. We are left with the realization that what Jesus is really asking is that God would forgive us just as much as and in exactly the same way that we forgive others. The irony is that Jesus understands we might miss this — so He tells us literally right after He finishes the prayer that God will not forgive us if we don’t forgive others. 14-15 “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part. (Matthew 6:14-15 MSG)
There’s an important point we don’t want to miss – the words of Jesus are not all comfort and love, there is also challenge in them:
We are able to ask God to “forgive us our debts”, only because we have already forgiven others for their debts against us. The prayer is pretty blunt about it – don’t come seeking absolution, seeking forgiveness, if you are still holding onto hatred and resentment toward someone else. How can we expect God to forgive us, if we can’t find it within our hearts to forgive others?
We need to be at peace with one another, before we come to seek peace with God. If you don’t, your debt will burden you forever. If you can’t forgive someone, or ask forgiveness from someone, Jesus is saying, then it is going to be like you are in prison – and you’ll remain there as long as forgiveness received and forgiveness given remains elusive.
If we cannot find the love to forgive others, then how can we possibly receive love in return? If our hearts are so closed to compassion and justice and empathy, then it is impossible for us to receive such compassion for ourselves. If we cannot find the grace to forgive the debts of others toward us, then how can we possibly expect to be shown grace?
This may seem backwards to you. But think of it this way, God is offering you an amazing gift: forgiveness of everything you have ever done, but you have a major grump on and don’t want to listen. So you turn your back on God and on this amazing gift. But over time, God works on your heart. God speaks to you through the morning glow of the sunrise, the warmer weather, trees budding, your child telling you that they love you and wrap their arms around you even though an hour ago you yelled at them. God works on your heart and softens it. He turns off the grump bit by bit. You say sorry to your child for yelling – again. And slowly, you turn towards God. (The word repent means to turn around!) Your grump goes away, melts. And then you’re able to receive that most amazing thing that God does – forgiveness. And you’re like, wow, why did I take so long? Why did I hold on to that grump so long? This is pretty sweet. Thank you, God!
One of things that we need to remember about the Lord’s Prayer is that Jesus is trying to teach us. He isn’t asking God for daily bread simply because He needs it. He is teaching us that our existence depends on God. We can’t even have the bread we need to live without the grace of God. Jesus isn’t simply teaching us to ask God for forgiveness. You don’t need to teach people that. We all have a desire to get away with sinning.
No one likes to be in trouble and we like punishment even less. But, for Jesus to simply be teaching people that they can ask God for forgiveness seems too shallow.
We have all been forgiven great debts to God. Jesus took all of our debts, died on the cross, and by so doing, erased our ledger. We are all in need of Jesus. But unless we truly understand how much we need Jesus and how much grace we have been given, we cannot hope to extend that grace to others.
Jesus makes it pretty clear. Either you understand the grace that God gave you and thus forgive others or you don’t. Revenge and bitterness are the enemy of God. When we don’t forgive others we stand in the place of God, passing judgement on someone. We in essence say “Look God, I know that you have forgiven them, but I know better than you do.” Unforgiveness declares that God is either a liar or a fool.
Forgiveness doesn’t always happen all at once. We can pray that God would help us forgive. We can pray that God would give us eyes to see the other person the way God sees them.
When that happens – over time – then you realize that the non-forgiveness has been a huge burden. Just like a financial debt that has been cancelled, that is how it feels when you cancel another’s debt – when you forgive someone. And then your debt is also cancelled. And a huge burden comes off of your soul – you are then free.
May you come to realize that forgiveness is not just for yourself. May you be healed from the wounds that others have inflicted on you. May you extend to others the same grace that God gave you. May God open your eyes to see people the way that He does. Amen!