why

At that time John’s disciples came and asked Jesus, “Why do we and the Pharisees frequently fast, but your disciples never fast?” Jesus responded, “The wedding guests can’t mourn while the groom is still with them, can they? But the days will come when the groom will be taken away from them, and then they’ll fast. “No one sews a piece of new, unshrunk cloth on old clothes because the patch tears away the cloth and makes a worse tear. No one pours new wine into old wineskins. If they did, the wineskins would burst, the wine would spill, and the wineskins would be ruined. Instead, people pour new wine into new wineskins so that both are kept safe.” (Matthew 9:14-17, CEB)

Do you look at others and wish you did what they do? Or wonder why they do what they do when you don’t do that?

There are so many things the scriptures tell us to do and ways to do them. And yet it seems as many people as there are there are that many ways to do something.

People asked Jesus why his followers didn’t do what other teachers were telling their followers to do. It is like judging someone else for sinning differently than you.

We are all walking a road and journeying toward the kingdom. We will all get there, and yet our journeys will be different.

Do not judge yourself based on someone else. Focus your life on God and follow where God leads you.

Loving People. Loving God.

reminder

The Law is a shadow of the good things that are coming, not the real things themselves. It never can perfect the ones who are trying to draw near to God through the same sacrifices that are offered continually every year. Otherwise, wouldn’t they have stopped being offered? If the people carrying out their religious duties had been completely cleansed once, no one would have been aware of sin anymore. Instead, these sacrifices are a reminder of sin every year, because it’s impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Hebrews 10:1-4, CEB)

If temple sacrifices could take away sin, why haven’t they?

They are a reminder of how we are not right with God. They remind us of our sin. Because the blood of bulls and goats can not take away sin.

The Law doesn’t make us right, it reminds us how we are wrong. And we are all wrong.

The good news is, we are made right because of God and that is not in our power to control.

So know you, like me, and everyone else is sinful.

But God made a way!

Loving People. Loving God.

how could I?

An angel from the Lord spoke to Philip, “At noon, take the road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.) So he did. Meanwhile, an Ethiopian man was on his way home from Jerusalem, where he had come to worship. He was a eunuch and an official responsible for the entire treasury of Candace. (Candace is the title given to the Ethiopian queen.) He was reading the prophet Isaiah while sitting in his carriage. The Spirit told Philip, “Approach this carriage and stay with it.” Running up to the carriage, Philip heard the man reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you really understand what you are reading?” The man replied, “Without someone to guide me, how could I?” Then he invited Philip to climb up and sit with him. This was the passage of scripture he was reading: Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent so he didn’t open his mouth. In his humiliation justice was taken away from him. Who can tell the story of his descendants because his life was taken from the earth? The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, about whom does the prophet say this? Is he talking about himself or someone else?” Starting with that passage, Philip proclaimed the good news about Jesus to him. As they went down the road, they came to some water. The eunuch said, “Look! Water! What would keep me from being baptized?” He ordered that the carriage halt. Both Philip and the eunuch went down to the water, where Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Lord’s Spirit suddenly took Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. Philip found himself in Azotus. He traveled through that area, preaching the good news in all the cities until he reached Caesarea. (Acts 8:26-40, CEB)

“Without someone to guide me, how could I?”

Do you remember the first time you read the Bible?

Did you understand it? Now we may get meaning from the words we read and the stories may make sense (there are some stories I read today after reading them many times that I still struggle to make sense of) but do we get the meaning that was meant by the author?

Now, this is actually true of any story we read. The author had one thing in mind as they were writing, but the words may create an image in my mind that is different than what the author was looking for. I remember the first time I watched a Harry Potter movie with my oldest daughter and the dementors were there and she said, “That is not how I pictured the dementors.” We get an image and sometimes it isn’t what everyone else gets.

That is why the eunuch said, “Without someone to guide me, how could I?”

We need community to discern what the Bible says.

We need community to understand our calling as followers of God.

We need to be in community with others to know what we are called to be in the world.

That is one of the things I love about Bible studies in groups. We hear different images and understandings, and we see the richness to the text and the understanding of loving the world.

Be in community and share your imagination!

Loving People. Loving God.

testified

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one about whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is really greater than me because he existed before me.’ Even I didn’t recognize him, but I came baptizing with water so that he might be made known to Israel.” John testified, “I saw the Spirit coming down from heaven like a dove, and it rested on him. Even I didn’t recognize him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit coming down and resting is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and testified that this one is God’s Son.” The next day John was standing again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus walking along he said, “Look! The Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard what he said, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he asked, “What are you looking for?” They said, “Rabbi (which is translated Teacher), where are you staying?” He replied, “Come and see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two disciples who heard what John said and followed Jesus was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Christ ). He led him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter). (John 1:29-42, CEB)

John baptized Jesus and saw the Spirit descend and then he told the world.

And while John and his disciples were standing around, Jesus walked by and when John said who he was two of John’s disciples followed after Jesus, and what did Jesus say/ask?

As followers of Jesus, it is our calling to share the good news of Jesus with the world. We are to share the love God has given us, but what do we see Christians sharing? Is it love, or is it change or burn? I see both. I feel like society sees the later more than the first though.

That is why it is interesting what Jesus says to the disciples of John that are following him. “What are you looking for?” The simple question Jesus asks.

Jesus didn’t tell them to change, or that if they were sinners they would not see the kingdom. He asked what they were looking for and when they said where are you staying, he invited them to come and see. How simple.

How many people have you invited to come and see? We have seen and heard that Jesus is the Son of God, come to us to teach us to love, and we need to testify and share that with the world, and the way we do that is by saying come and see.

Love People by sharing the love you have been given and inviting them to come and see.

Loving People. Loving God.

Why do you follow?

One day Jesus was standing beside Lake Gennesaret when the crowd pressed in around him to hear God’s word. Jesus saw two boats sitting by the lake. The fishermen had gone ashore and were washing their nets. Jesus boarded one of the boats, the one that belonged to Simon, then asked him to row out a little distance from the shore. Jesus sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he finished speaking to the crowds, he said to Simon, “Row out farther, into the deep water, and drop your nets for a catch.” Simon replied, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and caught nothing. But because you say so, I’ll drop the nets.” So they dropped the nets and their catch was so huge that their nets were splitting. They signaled for their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They filled both boats so full that they were about to sink. When Simon Peter saw the catch, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Leave me, Lord, for I’m a sinner!” Peter and those with him were overcome with amazement because of the number of fish they caught. James and John, Zebedee’s sons, were Simon’s partners and they were amazed too. Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid. From now on, you will be fishing for people.” As soon as they brought the boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Jesus. (Luke 5:1-11, CEB)

I have always wondered after this story, did Peter follow because of the miracle?

Was it the catch of fish after they had been doing it all night and catching nothing and then Jesus says, “row out and drop the nets for a catch?” And they get a huge catch.

I mean did Peter follow because of this?

Do we follow for what we will get?

Why do we follow Jesus?

Loving People. Loving God.

First and now…

Theophilus, the first scroll I wrote concerned everything Jesus did and taught from the beginning, right up to the day when he was taken up into heaven. Before he was taken up, working in the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus instructed the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he showed them that he was alive with many convincing proofs. He appeared to them over a period of forty days, speaking to them about God’s kingdom. While they were eating together, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for what the Father had promised. He said, “This is what you heard from me: John baptized with water, but in only a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:1-5, CEB)

Luke was Acts Volume 1, or is Acts Luke Volume 2?

Interesting that those who decided on the books in the canon (Bible) decided to separate the 2 by John.

But, Luke tells of the stories of Jesus while he was here on earth and Acts gives the story of the disciples after Jesus went back to be with God. But now how could Jesus go to be with God if/since he is God (that is a post for another time).

We just need to know the stories, much like we know our families’ stories that were never written down. They are a part of who we are, just as Luke and Acts and all the rest of the books are a part of our story.

Know your story and share the love.

Loving People. Loving God.

who you tryin to please?

I’m amazed that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ to follow another gospel. It’s not really another gospel, but certain people are confusing you and they want to change the gospel of Christ. However, even if we ourselves or a heavenly angel should ever preach anything different from what we preached to you, they should be under a curse. I’m repeating what we’ve said before: if anyone preaches something different from what you received, they should be under a curse! Am I trying to win over human beings or God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I wouldn’t be Christ’s slave. Brothers and sisters, I want you to know that the gospel I preached isn’t human in origin. I didn’t receive it or learn it from a human. It came through a revelation from Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:6-12, CEB)

Paul here can’t believe the Galatians are turning away from what he and his companions had taught them about the Gospel. And asks during the discussion who am I trying to please? God or people.

So who are you trying to please?

You will never please people, and you don’t need to please God.

But if you try to please people, you will definitely not please God, because people will lead you away from where God wants you to be.

So don’t make people happy, but follow God and stay true to God.

Loving People. Loving God.

Hope

Jesus knew what they intended to do, so he went away from there. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them all. But he ordered them not to spread the word about him, so that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled:

Look, my Servant whom I chose,
        the one I love, in whom I find great pleasure.
I’ll put my Spirit upon him,
        and he’ll announce judgment to the Gentiles.
He won’t argue or shout,
        and nobody will hear his voice in the streets.
He won’t break a bent stalk,
        and he won’t snuff out a smoldering wick,
            until he makes justice win.
And the Gentiles will put their hope in his name. (Matthew 12:15-21, CEB)

And the Gentiles will put their hope in his name.

Jesus is the name to hope in.

Promises are kept.

Love is shared.

Believe in Jesus.

Share the love God gave you through Jesus with the world!

Loving People. Loving God.

People listen

Those who had been scattered moved on, preaching the good news along the way. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and began to preach Christ to them. The crowds were united by what they heard Philip say and the signs they saw him perform, and they gave him their undivided attention. With loud shrieks, unclean spirits came out of many people, and many who were paralyzed or crippled were healed. There was great rejoicing in that city. Before Philip’s arrival, a certain man named Simon had practiced sorcery in that city and baffled the people of Samaria. He claimed to be a great person. Everyone, from the least to the greatest, gave him their undivided attention and referred to him as “the power of God called Great.” He had their attention because he had baffled them with sorcery for a long time. After they came to believe Philip, who preached the good news about God’s kingdom and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Even Simon himself came to believe and was baptized. Afterward, he became one of Philip’s supporters. As he saw firsthand the signs and great miracles that were happening, he was astonished. (Acts 8:4-13, CEB)

This is one example out of Acts where people were struck with the message of the Gospel and gave their full attention to the message. Is this what you experience when we see the gospel shared today? Are we seeing people give their full attention to God and the message of love we share?

Not really people don’t believe it, and why?

I would venture it is because a lot of people who say God loves say, “God loves everyone, but LGBTQIA+ aren’t welcome because they are sinners.” Any time we say God loves everyone, but, the but means God doesn’t love everyone. So either the first statement is true or the but is.

And I for one know God loves everyone. There is no but to that statement.

When followers say God Loves everyone but, I believe they are saying the truth, followed by their understanding. God loves everyone, but I don’t think those people should be included. They are saying what they wished God would say.

That is why people aren’t listening to the good news. Because they can’t believe it when followers don’t live it or believe it themselves.

Believe it. Live it. Shout it from the mountains!

Loving People. Loving God.

Baptism in the Spirit

While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on everyone who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. They heard them speaking in other languages and praising God. Peter asked, “These people have received the Holy Spirit just as we have. Surely no one can stop them from being baptized with water, can they?” He directed that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited Peter to stay for several days. (Acts 10:44-48, CEB)

This is the story of Peter visiting Cornelius and talking with him and his household about God and the story of Jesus. While Peter was talking to them, they were baptized with the Spirit.

As Lutherans we have in our baptismal service a portion where we say the baptism of the Holy Spirit comes, the pastor says as the mark the sign of the cross on the baptized’s forehead, “Child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.” I have always loved this part of the service but also wondered if we could say this is when the Holy Spirit comes. We want to say we understand God and everything God does and saying this is when the baptism of the Holy Spirit happens we get to control God, but the reading above shows us that God does things God’s way and not the neat way we want it to happen.

Know that you can’t control God or the things that God wants to happen.

Let go and know that God is God and you are not.

Loving People. Loving God.