tempted

Those who stand firm during testing are blessed. They are tried and true. They will receive the life God has promised to those who love him as their reward. No one who is tested should say, “God is tempting me!” This is because God is not tempted by any form of evil, nor does he tempt anyone. Everyone is tempted by their own cravings; they are lured away and enticed by them. Once those cravings conceive, they give birth to sin; and when sin grows up, it gives birth to death. Don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. (James 1:12-16, CEB)

When you stand firm during tempting you are blessed.

When you show the world that you are a child of God and never give into the worlds pleasures you are blessed.

But don’t say God tempts you because you are tempted by your own desires and cravings.

Do not give in but hold fast to God.

Loving People. Loving God.

ἐγώ εἰμι

Jesus spoke to the people again, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me won’t walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” Then the Pharisees said to him, “Because you are testifying about yourself, your testimony isn’t valid.” Jesus replied, “Even if I testify about myself, my testimony is true, since I know where I came from and where I’m going. You don’t know where I come from or where I’m going. You judge according to human standards, but I judge no one. Even if I do judge, my judgment is truthful, because I’m not alone. My judgments come from me and from the Father who sent me. In your Law it is written that the witness of two people is true. I am one witness concerning myself, and the Father who sent me is the other.” They asked him, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You don’t know me and you don’t know my Father. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.” He spoke these words while he was teaching in the temple area known as the treasury. No one arrested him, because his time hadn’t yet come. Jesus continued, “I’m going away. You will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I’m going, you can’t come.” The Jewish leaders said, “He isn’t going to kill himself, is he? Is that why he said, ‘Where I’m going, you can’t come’?” He said to them, “You are from below; I’m from above. You are from this world; I’m not from this world. This is why I told you that you would die in your sins. If you don’t believe that I Am, you will die in your sins.” “Who are you?” they asked. Jesus replied, “I’m exactly who I have claimed to be from the beginning. I have many things to say in judgment concerning you. The one who sent me is true, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.” They didn’t know he was speaking about his Father. So Jesus said to them, “When the Human One is lifted up, then you will know that I Am. Then you will know that I do nothing on my own, but I say just what the Father has taught me. He who sent me is with me. He doesn’t leave me by myself, because I always do what makes him happy.” While Jesus was saying these things, many people came to believe in him. (John 8:12-30, CEB)

ἐγώ εἰμι. I am.

Jesus said to those questioning him, “If you don’t believe that I Am, you will die in your sins.” If you don’t believe that ἐγώ εἰμι. This is the name of God given to Moses in Exodus.

Jesus just said to the religious leaders If you don’t believe that (name of God) you will die in your sins. Jesus just plainly said in public he is God.

This happens a lot more than we realize in John. It is translated differently or wrong.

For instance in the garden when the guards come to arrest Jesus, usually it is translated as I am he. The temple guards fall on their faces when Jesus says this because he says, “ἐγώ εἰμι” and the guards recognize it as God’s name!

Those who opposed Jesus knew who he was and who he claimed he was.

Do we?

Know that Jesus is God and he came to show us love and to help us love the world.

Loving People. Loving God.

preach

This is why we don’t get discouraged, given that we received this ministry in the same way that we received God’s mercy. Instead, we reject secrecy and shameful actions. We don’t use deception, and we don’t tamper with God’s word. Instead, we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God by the public announcement of the truth. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are on the road to destruction. The god of this age has blinded the minds of those who don’t have faith so they couldn’t see the light of the gospel that reveals Christ’s glory. Christ is the image of God. We don’t preach about ourselves. Instead, we preach about Jesus Christ as Lord, and we describe ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. God said that light should shine out of the darkness. He is the same one who shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay pots so that the awesome power belongs to God and doesn’t come from us. We are experiencing all kinds of trouble, but we aren’t crushed. We are confused, but we aren’t depressed. We are harassed, but we aren’t abandoned. We are knocked down, but we aren’t knocked out. We always carry Jesus’ death around in our bodies so that Jesus’ life can also be seen in our bodies. We who are alive are always being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake so that Jesus’ life can also be seen in our bodies that are dying. So death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (2 Corinthians 4:1-12, CEB)

We do not preach about ourselves but we preach about Jesus as lord.

The good news is God stepped down and came to show us love and how to live and love others around us. The Good News has had an effect on our lives that is why we share the message, but preaching is never about us, but Jesus.

We might share our story, but preaching is about Jesus.

Preach in the world and tell the story of God’s love through Jesus.

Loving People. Loving God.

grace wouldn’t be grace

God hasn’t rejected his people, whom he knew in advance. Or don’t you know what the scripture says in the case of Elijah, when he pleads with God against Israel? Lord, they have killed your prophets, and they have torn down your altars. I’m the only one left, and they are trying to take my life. But what is God’s reply to him? I have kept for myself seven thousand people who haven’t bowed their knees to Baal. So also in the present time there is a remaining group by the choice of God’s grace. But if it is by grace, it isn’t by what’s done anymore. If it were, God’s grace wouldn’t be grace. So what? Israel didn’t find what it was looking for. Those who were chosen found it, but the others were resistant. As it is written, God gave them a dull spirit, so that their eyes would not see and their ears not hear, right up until the present day. And David says, Their table should become a pitfall and a trap, a stumbling block and payback to them for what they have done. Their eyes should be darkened so they can’t see, and their backs always bent. (Romans 11:2-10, CEB)

If we are accepted by what we have done then God’s grace wouldn’t be grace.

We will always be resistant to doing what God is leading an guiding us to do because what God calls us to do is love everyone and to be frank that is impossible.

There are people in our lives that just rub us the wrong way and do not make us want to love them, but God wants us to love them anyway.

We could never do enough right stuff in God’s eyes to make it. That is why there is grace.

You can’t earn it or do anything to get rid of it.

God’s grace wouldn’t be grace if we could earn it.

Know you are loved and love others.

Loving People. Loving God.

Can you hide?

“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how will it become salty again? It’s good for nothing except to be thrown away and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven. “Don’t even begin to think that I have come to do away with the Law and the Prophets. I haven’t come to do away with them but to fulfill them. I say to you very seriously that as long as heaven and earth exist, neither the smallest letter nor even the smallest stroke of a pen will be erased from the Law until everything there becomes a reality. Therefore, whoever ignores one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called the lowest in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever keeps these commands and teaches people to keep them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. I say to you that unless your righteousness is greater than the righteousness of the legal experts and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:13-20, CEB)

If you truly believe that Jesus is the son of God and came to teach us to love and live in grace then we can not not share this. We need to light the light and put it on a table and shout it from the mountains.

We need to season the world with the love God has given us.

We need to not worry about the rules and love as we have been told to do, God and everyone.

Love out Loud and let your light shine!

Loving People. Loving God.

rules

The Pharisees and some legal experts from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus. They saw some of his disciples eating food with unclean hands. (They were eating without first ritually purifying their hands through washing. The Pharisees and all the Jews don’t eat without first washing their hands carefully. This is a way of observing the rules handed down by the elders. Upon returning from the marketplace, they don’t eat without first immersing themselves. They observe many other rules that have been handed down, such as the washing of cups, jugs, pans, and sleeping mats.) So the Pharisees and legal experts asked Jesus, “Why are your disciples not living according to the rules handed down by the elders but instead eat food with ritually unclean hands?” He replied, “Isaiah really knew what he was talking about when he prophesied about you hypocrites. He wrote, This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far away from me. Their worship of me is empty since they teach instructions that are human words. You ignore God’s commandment while holding on to rules created by humans and handed down to you.” (Mark 7:1-8, CEB)

I often hear people say they have given up on organized religion. Another way people say this is I’m spiritual but not religious.

And this passage is one of the reasons why. We get so hung up on the rules and what we have to do to be a part we lose sight of what God actually told us to do, love.

Rules are good and give us order. But rules that hinder love or cause people to have to do things they can’t are not loving.

Jesus said the law and the prophets can be summed up in two commandments. The law and the prophets is the sum total of the Hebrew Scripture. Those commandments are love God and love neighbor. Love. The only rule you have to follow.

Do not put on appearances and look like you are doing good by keeping the rules. Love.

Love out Loud.

Loving People. Loving God.

wisdom from above

Are any of you wise and understanding? Show that your actions are good with a humble lifestyle that comes from wisdom. However, if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, then stop bragging and living in ways that deny the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above. Instead, it is from the earth, natural and demonic. Wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and everything that is evil. What of the wisdom from above? First, it is pure, and then peaceful, gentle, obedient, filled with mercy and good actions, fair, and genuine. Those who make peace sow the seeds of justice by their peaceful acts. (James 3:13-18, CEB)

Jealousy and selfish ambition is a denying of the truth of God. These bring disorder and evil and get in the way of community and grace.

When we see others for the beauty that God sees in them and for the wonder they bring to the world. There will be purity and peace. We will abide together and see how we work together in one community, one body.

Use the wisdom from above and do not be jealous of others, but see how they compliment the gifts you bring.

Loving People. Loving God.

Presentation of our Lord

When the time came for their ritual cleansing, in accordance with the Law from Moses, they brought Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. (It’s written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male will be dedicated to the Lord.”) They offered a sacrifice in keeping with what’s stated in the Law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. A man named Simeon was in Jerusalem. He was righteous and devout. He eagerly anticipated the restoration of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. The Holy Spirit revealed to him that he wouldn’t die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Led by the Spirit, he went into the temple area. Meanwhile, Jesus’ parents brought the child to the temple so that they could do what was customary under the Law. Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God. He said, “Now, master, let your servant go in peace according to your word, because my eyes have seen your salvation. You prepared this salvation in the presence of all peoples. It’s a light for revelation to the Gentiles and a glory for your people Israel.” His father and mother were amazed by what was said about him. Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “This boy is assigned to be the cause of the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that generates opposition so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your innermost being too.” There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, who belonged to the tribe of Asher. She was very old. After she married, she lived with her husband for seven years. She was now an 84-year-old widow. She never left the temple area but worshipped God with fasting and prayer night and day. She approached at that very moment and began to praise God and to speak about Jesus to everyone who was looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. When Mary and Joseph had completed everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to their hometown, Nazareth in Galilee. The child grew up and became strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on him. (Luke 2:22-40, CEB)

What would you do if you took your child to do what your religion said must be done and you were greeted by two people you had never met praised your child and told all those around about all the things he would do? Take your child and run. That is what I would do.

But Mary and Joseph heard the words and completed their tasks and went home.

They did their religious duty, knowing full well what was coming. Simeon and Anna just confirmed what they already knew.

Jesus was something different and was going to make a change in the world.

Mary and Joseph did their duty under the law and in the religion.

And Jesus did his and changed the world.

How do you present Jesus to the world?

Loving People. Loving God.

Power

Jesus came down from the mountain with them and stood on a large area of level ground. A great company of his disciples and a huge crowd of people from all around Judea and Jerusalem and the area around Tyre and Sidon joined him there. They came to hear him and to be healed from their diseases, and those bothered by unclean spirits were healed. The whole crowd wanted to touch him, because power was going out from him and he was healing everyone. Jesus raised his eyes to his disciples and said: “Happy are you who are poor, because God’s kingdom is yours. Happy are you who hunger now, because you will be satisfied. Happy are you who weep now, because you will laugh. Happy are you when people hate you, reject you, insult you, and condemn your name as evil because of the Human One. Rejoice when that happens! Leap for joy because you have a great reward in heaven. Their ancestors did the same things to the prophets. But how terrible for you who are rich, because you have already received your comfort. How terrible for you who have plenty now, because you will be hungry. How terrible for you who laugh now, because you will mourn and weep. How terrible for you when all speak well of you. Their ancestors did the same things to the false prophets. (Luke 6:17-26, CEB)

It is interesting that this is the sermon in Luke where the beatitudes come and they are a little different than Matthew, but the interesting thing to me as I read this passage this time was, “The whole crowd wanted to touch him, because power was going out from him and he was healing everyone.”

They all wanted to touch him because power was going out of him.

They wanted to be healed or get the mojo.

Don’t we all want power?

And sometimes we will do things we wouldn’t normally do to get that.

But we do not have to. If we just believe and follow, then we get the power.

Be who God created and know you are loved.

Loving People. Loving God.

Pay attention

Pay attention, you wealthy people! Weep and moan over the miseries coming upon you. Your riches have rotted. Moths have destroyed your clothes. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you. It will eat your flesh like fire. Consider the treasure you have hoarded in the last days. Listen! Hear the cries of the wages of your field hands. These are the wages you stole from those who harvested your fields. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of heavenly forces. You have lived a self-satisfying life on this earth, a life of luxury. You have stuffed your hearts in preparation for the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who doesn’t oppose you. (James 5:1-6, CEB)

Do you have stores of wealth?

Do you have treasures you will never use?

Do people around you want for basic needs while you sit in luxury and count your wealth?

This is not how God has called us to live. Share what you have with those in need.

You are blessed to be a blessing.

Pay attention and love the world.

Loving People. Loving God.