Sunday, April 26, 2009

Nor silver or gold...

Today's scripture reading included Acts 3:1-26, telling of Peter and John going into the temple. A crippled man sitting outside spoke to them, asking for money. But Peter, rather than reaching into his pocket, reached to him with words, saying, "I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazareen -- walk!" (Acts 3:6)

Peter saw an opportunity to reach out with Christ's love and healing of both physical and mental anguish - and the man was healed.

Thoughts flooded through my head.

Does God have lots of blessings for us? Does He have lots that He wants to give to us? What does Jesus Christ offer to us?

Here in acts we see healing in His name. We celebrate the Easter message with the vision of eternal life. Jesus says, "For God so love the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16) Through Jesus' death and resurrection, God has claimed us back to Him. For mental heath, we are offered peace. "And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:7)

Then, I remember back to the story read as child about blessings -- you know, the beatitudes. Jesus himself offers to the crowd:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matt. 5:3-11)

I'll stop with that... but take a moment and look at the blessings that Jesus offered! To His listeners!

So, as a servant of Christ, I am recipient of lots from God. Wow!

Okay... so maybe I should stop right there with the message. Just take the good things and run.

Go home, sit on the couch like a queen, waiting for God to pour forth upon me...

Isn't that what all that I've shown above means? I am the recipient -- from God. He has gifts -- for me! Yipee!

Well... The thoughts in church didn't stop with those above. Instead, I thought of the word "relationship". The definition says, "the quality or state of being related; connection." So then I thought of "connection" -- what does that involve? Can I be lone and have a connection? Can this "connection" be one sided with one side doing all the work? The dictionary says,"to join or fasten; link; couple." At this point, I am thinking that God wants and will give me many things. But there is something required of me as well. I'm not a queen on the throne (or couch) just waiting for Him to serve me.

Instead, I looked up the word "relationship" and see that with God the relationship is entered in by my faith. He expressed His love for His people (Jews) through the covenant. And yes, we now have a new covenant through Jesus Christ. "The fulfillment of God's purposes of salvation expressed in the covenants of the OT, mediated by Jesus Christ and sealed in his blood. It is a covenant of grace, the benefits of which include forgiveness, a renewed relationship with God and, through the Holy Spirit, an inward transformation that enables obedience to its demands and so ensures that it will not again be broken." (Zondervan Bible Dictionary)

Again, I could stop right here. I have the good news of what I CAN HAVE.

But it just doesn't seem right. Yes, God has much for us. But we are in a relationship. I can't do all the taking...

So... what can I give back to the God above all Gods?
The first thing that came to mind is Jesus stating to the disciples the great commission. He told His followers to go into the world and make disciples. (Matt. 28:19)
When preparing for KIDS Club one night, I was talking with my daughter to get ideas. She asked me how the kids would put the message for our lesson into action? Our faith journey, relationship with God, our receiving from Him, is not just a one-way street. Instead, we need to put our faith in Him to action. Apply what we know and see and understand to actions or words that tell others the Good News.

If someone gives you something, what do you do in return? So, I ask you, now that we see all that God gives to us -- what do you offer Him in return?
Billy Graham said, "God has given us two hands -- one for receiving and the other for giving."
And Fr. Andrew said, "The highest love of all finds it fulfillment not in what it keeps but in what it gives."

What do you offer back to God?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Praise be to Him!

Mark 16:1-20

The Resurrection

1When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him.
2Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.
3They were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?"
4Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large.
5Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed.
6And he said to them, "Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.
7"But go, tell His disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.'"
8They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
9[Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons.
10She went and reported to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping.
11When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.
12After that, He appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking along on their way to the country.
13They went away and reported it to the others, but they did not believe them either.
The Disciples Commissioned
14Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen.
15And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
16"He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.
17"These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues;
18they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."
19So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.
20And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.


Praise be to Him, the Father - Son and Holy Spirit -- now and forever! Amen!