Saturday, March 22, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #11

Hi Friends!

As we study the words of Jesus from the cross, I was reminded of a verse in Ephesians where the Apostle Paul instructs the church about our speech.

Ephesians 4:29 (KJV)

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

We should be most grateful that Jesus had no corrupt communication from His mouth: He completely embodied truth and grace (see John 1) which edify and minister the gift of God to those who hear.

Isaiah 53 (see that passage below) speaks about how no guile was found in Him and Jesus tells us why: Jesus said "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."

I am most grateful that Jesus had a heart filled with truth and grace and modeled the communication needs of humanity: even from the cross.

Join me in asking God to renew His Spirit within us to continue to speak His truth in ways that edify and minister with His grace to those who hear: may our hearts model His as we speak.

We are all sinners saved by the gift of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ from the cross: the words we speak as a church should model the forgiveness and assurance we find in Him even in a culture of crucifixion.

God's Peace,

Isaiah 53 (NIV)

53 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 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.

4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #10

Hi Friends!

As we journey through the Lenten Season to Easter we will be exploring the 7 life-changing statements of Jesus from the Cross. The first statement is one of forgiveness.

“Finally, they came to a place called The Skull. All three were crucified there—Jesus on the center cross, and the two criminals on either side. Then Jesus said, ‘FATHER, FORGIVE THEM, for they do not know what they are doing.’” Luke 23:33-34 (NLT)

Jesus spoke these words during a time of intense pain and supreme self-sacrifice leaving us an example where excuses for resentment and bitterness wane. If there is a person in your life that would benefit from your forgiveness please pray and ask God to empower you through His Spirit to model Jesus and extend compassion to them.

I understand this can be a really huge challenge for people who have been significantly wounded by another but I would ask you to consider a couple of truths: 1) we serve a really huge God and 2) each of us have at some point significantly wounded another. The latter makes our need as great as those who have hurt us and the former makes forgiveness possible.

May we all celebrate the Lenten Season by fasting from bitterness and extending the forgiveness Jesus affords to us to others.

God's Peace,

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #9

Hi Friends!

It won't be long and people will be looking to cool off in a pool as opposed to warming up by a fireplace with a steaming cup of cocoa after shoveling out of the seemingly never ending accumulation of snow. See blog entry #8 below for a "forecast" of ministry opportunities at Connections and continue to pray and read the Bible (see Ephesians 6: 10-19) for strength and encouragement in Christ.

Speaking of encouragement in Christ, I want to encourage you to continue to look for ways to share your faith with others. Consider inviting a family member, friend, co-worker, or classmate to see the movie Son of God. Offer to purchase the tickets and then sponsor a trip to an eatery and enjoy some refreshments and conversation about the show. Imagine what God might do? Please pass along your praises as the Lord leads.

Be blessed and be a blessing!

God's Peace,