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Archive for November, 2017

Losing the Limitations

November 30th, 2017

And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking…And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:4-11 ESV)

The apostles should have grasped from this simple experience that Jesus was taking them places they had not been before, and to deal with numbers that they had not considered previously. “Let down your nets into the deep for a catch!” This was not done for an exercise but for a catch of fish.

This was a new phase in their lives. From this point on they would be called to go where Jesus told them, to reach who Jesus called them to reach, to let down the nets of evangelism into a world of need, and to bring in a catch of souls that was beyond what they could imagine. Not only would nets be stretched to breaking, but so would they.

The Jewish religion of the days of Jesus had pockets of genuine faith, but it was dominated by the Pharisees who stressed a legalistic approach to self righteousness. They sought to outwardly measure everything and were the experts of knowing what a man could bear and what he could not. They were reasonable men who disliked unreasonable men. They sought to put all that a man should do into a convenient little box of legal adherence to the teachings of the rabbis.

Christ was the opposite of this spirit and opened up these neat little boxes and shone eternity into the consciousness and into the conscience of humanity. The light of God that shines into our hearts and minds today also takes a different approach from “religion” as a whole. We find obedience often very inconvenient – and we really should not expect it to be any other way. While we have been downsizing God has been upsizing. While we have been looking for convenient and comfortable answers, God shows us His glory and His love, and the potential of human life.

I believe most of us come to church for our own selfish little reasons, with a consumer spirit. I like this church because … and you can fill in the blank. It is usually something like “my friends are there” or “I like the preaching” or “I feel good when I go.” Rarely do we stop and consider the eternal call of the eternal God and think of the call to become all that we may become in Christ Jesus, rather we put the emphasis on small incidental things.

We have not yet left all and followed Christ. We still like our boxes and like to catch the fish we want, not the ones in the deep. We still say to God, I want to be called to love the people I like, and not to learn to like the people I am called to love.

To leave all means that we love who He loves, we do what He calls us to do, we put Him first in everything, and we experience eternity daily in our lives. When we are open to the Spirit of eternal God we see His solutions and not our limitations to problems, and we follow Him on an exciting eternal journey.

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Love in Action

November 28th, 2017

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:8-10 NIV

I’m in Upper Manhattan today at our daughter’s and her husband’s apartment. The ladies have trusted me with watching my three year old granddaughter long enough for them to have breakfast together. For a three year old, love must be practical, so we have eaten strawberries together, watched approved cartoons, cuddled, and helped her build her train track, and find her favorite cars. She is a girly-girl but does have an older brother, so trains are what she knows.

They live not far from Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center – good news in case you have a medical emergency, but it also means that ambulances come throughout the night.

It made me think of the church and the disturbance of helping others. It really should be no disturbance to us if we are helping someone in need, but sometimes, like sirens in the middle of the night, we are so focused on ourselves that we complain about our inconvenience. I remember a “mature” Christian in our church several years ago who complained about the disruption of all the new Christians. He said, “They ask questions we already know the answers to. What we need is a class just for mature Christians so we are not slowed down by these new Christians.”

Think about that statement for a second. It makes us wonder just how “mature” this man really was, if he was too “mature” to help a new Christian grow in the Lord. The mark of Christian maturity is not just more knowledge on certain topics, but more love for others, more patience with others, and more compassion toward others.

The New Testament Christians were not obsessed with knowledge alone, but with a life of obedience that pleased God. The attitude of the heart was more important than the knowledge of the head alone. Love was not a philosophical pursuit but a compassion to help others. Of course, the greatest help we can ever be to someone is to share with them the good news of Jesus Christ and encourage them to trust in Christ. But it does not end there – friendship, encouragement, mutual celebration, and helps – all of these are also important.

So love in patience and compassion and in a practical way as well.

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