A Story to Embody: September 23, 2012

There is such beauty in today's verses.  Beauty that shapes and creates how we live out our daily lives, walking with Him, in Him and through His love.  Proverbs 31 is one of the sections we read today.  For a widening in perspective, I'd encourage you to read it with His Church - the Bride of Christ, in mind.

Psalm 1
Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Proverbs 31:10-31

[a]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Ephesians 5:1-2
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

Matthew 5:44-48

43-47 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

In Christ,

A Story to Embody: September 16, 2012

Today's Scripture readings are anchored in Psalm 19.  As I read through all of the verses I was continually drawn back to the imagery and thoughts that Psalm 19 stirred in me.  Psalm 19 starts out reflecting on the glory and beauty of creation and how it points us to the glory of who God is.  It then takes us from there to the words of the Lord and the life it brings to us.  As you read, through the passages, some of which have difficult things to say, center it on the truth of God's Word and His character.

Psalm 19
The heavens declare the glory of God,
       and the skies announce what his hands have made.
 2 Day after day they tell the story;
       night after night they tell it again.
 3 They have no speech or words;
       they have no voice to be heard.
 4 But their message goes out through all the world;
       their words go everywhere on earth.
    The sky is like a home for the sun.
 5 The sun comes out like a bridegroom from his bedroom.
       It rejoices like an athlete eager to run a race.
 6 The sun rises at one end of the sky
       and follows its path to the other end.
       Nothing hides from its heat.

 7 The teachings of the Lord are perfect;
       they give new strength.
    The rules of the Lord can be trusted;
       they make plain people wise.
 8 The orders of the Lord are right;
       they make people happy.
    The commands of the Lord are pure;
       they light up the way.
 9 Respect for the Lord is good;
       it will last forever.
    The judgments of the Lord are true;
       they are completely right.
 10 They are worth more than gold,
       even the purest gold.
    They are sweeter than honey,
       even the finest honey.
 11 By them your servant is warned.
       Keeping them brings great reward.

 12 People cannot see their own mistakes.
       Forgive me for my secret sins.
 13 Keep me from the sins of pride;
       don't let them rule me.
    Then I can be pure
       and innocent of the greatest of sins.

 14 I hope my words and thoughts please you.
       Lord, you are my Rock, the one who saves me.

Zechariah 8:14-23

14 This is what the Lord All-Powerful says: "When your ancestors made me angry, I planned to punish you. I did not change my mind," says the Lord All-Powerful.15 "But now I will do something different. I am planning to do good to Jerusalem and Judah. So don't be afraid.16 These are the things you should do: Tell each other the truth. In the courts judge with truth and complete fairness.17 Do not make plans to hurt your neighbors, and don't love false promises. I hate all these things," says the Lord.

 18 The Lord All-Powerful spoke his word to me again.19 This is what the Lord All-Powerful says: "The special days when you fast in the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months will become good, joyful, happy feasts in Judah. But you must love truth and peace."

 20 This is what the Lord All-Powerful says: "Many people from many cities will still come to Jerusalem.21 People from one city will go and say to those from another city, 'We are going to pray to the Lord and to ask the Lord All-Powerful for help. Come and go with us.'22 Many people and powerful nations will come to worship the Lord All-Powerful in Jerusalem and to pray to the Lord for help."

 23 This is what the Lord All-Powerful says: "At that time, ten men from different countries will come and take hold of a Judean by his coat. They will say to him, 'Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.' "

Ephesians 4:25-32
25 So you must stop telling lies. Tell each other the truth, because we all belong to each other in the same body.[a]26 When you are angry, do not sin, and be sure to stop being angry before the end of the day.27 Do not give the devil a way to defeat you.28 Those who are stealing must stop stealing and start working. They should earn an honest living for themselves. Then they will have something to share with those who are poor.

 29 When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need—words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you.30 And do not make the Holy Spirit sad. The Spirit is God's proof that you belong to him. God gave you the Spirit to show that God will make you free when the final day comes.31 Do not be bitter or angry or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. Never do anything evil.32 Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ.

Matthew 5:38-48
38 "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' 39 But I tell you, don't stand up against an evil person. If someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other cheek also.40 If someone wants to sue you in court and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.41 If someone forces you to go with him one mile, go with him two miles. 42 If a person asks you for something, give it to him. Don't refuse to give to someone who wants to borrow from you.

    43 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemies.' 44 But I say to you, love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you. 45 If you do this, you will be true children of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on good people and on evil people, and he sends rain to those who do right and to those who do wrong.46 If you love only the people who love you, you will get no reward. Even the tax collectors do that.47 And if you are nice only to your friends, you are no better than other people. Even those who don't know God are nice to their friends. 48 So you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

It is easy to walk away from these verses with a to do list, because I have done that in the past.  In addition verse 48 says, be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.  We begin to lose focus, panic and say that this is impossible to do.  But go back to Psalm 19 - we look at creation and stand in awe of the glory of God.  Then we are told that His statues give us life, wisdom, strength, joy and direction in how we live our lives.  Then we also see that Jesus walked out the very things that He stated - He turned the other cheek, He gave above and beyond what was asked, He was beaten, spit upon, rejected and killed.  But then we see that God did step in and He gave life, abundant life, eternal life for us all!  It begins to unravel this to do list, it reminds us of the story we are walking in and then as we look back at Ephesians we see that we have the Holy Spirit inside of us helping us to walk things out.  Finally, as my husband pointed out this morning, what is this perfection that God is inviting us to walk out - it is love.  God allows the sun and the rain (His creation) to bless and favor ALL people.  When we love our enemies, when we turn the other cheek we are offering them a picture of God's heart towards ALL people.  Pretty awesome.

In Christ,

7 Verbs of Reorientation

I am currently reading Practice Resurrection by Eugene Peterson.  This is the first book that I've read by Eugene (other then his translation of the Bible, The Message) and I have been blown away by the depth and richness of his writing.  It has been an immense blessing in my life and I'm only 67 pages into the book.

I want to share a section of his writing on Ephesians 1:3-12.  In the original Greek, this entire passage is ONE complete sentence!!!!!  Paul is super excited about what he is writing and I hope by the end you are too:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He bestowed on us in the Beloved.

7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. 11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

The quotes used in this post are from pages 56-67 of Practice Resurrection.  The direct quotes I use will be in italics.

Euguene expounds on this word by showing that it is used twice in this passage.  The two uses show that we not only bless God but He blesses us.  Our ability to bless begins in God and because of who God is.  This idea correlated with thoughts that I had already been having about the word blessing.  So often, when it came time to "bless" the Lord or be thankful I would have to stop and think, "Okay what can I find within myself to be thankful about?"  It dawned on me this week that I have been invited to join in what is already true, as Jesus said, "If they were silent even the rocks would cry out (Luke 19:40)."  There already is a song of glorious praise that constantly surrounds us.  We are invited to join into the singing, we don't have to conjure something up within ourselves, we just have to join in with what is already true.  The amazing thing is that when we bless God he begins to bless us back - abundantly and without measure.

Eugene points out how so many people have as part of their story the fact that they were never chosen.  They weren't chosen for the basketball team, or for the cheer leading squad, or to play tag at recess...  He disscusses how this lack can become a part of our story and to make up for it we try to find ways to stand out and to be noticed.  But the breath of fresh air, the thing that makes us stop in our tracks and be reoriented in how we operate in this life is by recognizing the fact that we haven been chosen, in fact chosen before the foundations of the world.  You were (and are) wanted, you were chosen before you even knew you existed... pretty profound.

The verb "destine" (prooridzo) derives from the noun "boundary" (oros).  Literally, it means to set a limit, to mark a boundary. 
God sets a boundary in our life for our good, to give us perspective and to help us not be overwhelmed with all the possibilities.  It also shows us where we are going. So where has God destined us to? He destined us to adoption as children of God.  This is your destiny, this is who you are and where you belong.

God bestows grace upon us!  "Bestow" is the noun "grace" verbalized.  In its verbal form it carries the meaning of the noun, "Grace" but also intensifies it to "poured out" or I would prefer "drenched."
"God's grace activated, God's grace in motion - in us.  It isn't our business to figure this out or catalogue it or master it.  Get used to abundance.  God isn't a noun to be objectively defined.  God is the verbing of a noun."
I am overwhelmed with the imagery this word brings and also by the fact that His grace is bestowed on us in the BelovedSo often I talk to people who are beat up, discouraged, feeling like they don't measure up or that God is disappointed in them.  There is a disconnect between those feelings and what God says here: that he has poured out, drenched us in His grace.  We can't get out from under it, we are surrounded by it, we have been given it - in His beloved.

According to Peterson, lavish is one of Paul's favorite words.  What does it have to do with again? Grace.  God has lavished us with His grace.  In case, you missed it when Paul said, he bestows it upon you, he says it again - that he lavishes us with it!

Made Known
God has made known to us the mystery of His will.  "Mystery" here refers to something more like the inside story of the way God does things that brings us into the story... He does this with all "wisdom and insight."  "Wisdom and insight" are knowledge lived out.

This is the story that we embody.  We have been invited by God, in His bestowing and lavishing grace to join in the mystery of His will.  It is not a secret, that He is withholding from us, but rather an adventure that He has called us to partner with Him in it.

Gathers Up
Euguene stops here and looks back at the verses and shows us what the rest of these verbs have been anchored in: "Eleven times, either as proper name or pronoun, Christ is named: "Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph 1:3), "blessed us in Christ (v 3); "chose us in Christ" (v 4); destined us...through Jesus Christ" (v 5); "bestowed on us in the Beloved"(v 6); "in him [Christ] we have redemption through [Christ's blood]" (v7); "according to the riches of his [Christ's] grace" (v 7); "that he [Christ] lavished on us" (v 8); "that he set forth in Christ" (v 9); "to gather up all things in him [Christ]" v 10. 
Remember these verses are one complete sentence, with that in mind Paul says over and over and over again that this life we are invited to live in happens in Christ, through Christ, because of Christ.  He is our anchor, our strong foundation.  It only becomes more beautiful when we recognize that He has invited us in to participate, to be on the receiving end of the length, depth and height of His love.

I entitled this post 7 Verbs of Reorientation because that is what these verbs do for me.  As Eugene points out, it is so easy to get lost in the everydayness of life and just start walking life out mundanely.  But God has invited us to so much more, in Him.  My prayer for you is that you have been blessed by these verbs and that you are excited about the story that you are in the midst of this day.

In Christ,

A Story to Embody:September 9, 2012

I love the practicality of today's Scriptures: the reality of our relationship with God should create a natural flow out of us that will begin to effect our lives and how we interact with others.  My prayer is that as you read these verses you will see the grace that God provides to live in Christ.

I was captured by the following Psalm.  It says, but THEIR hope is in the Lord their God.  It then goes on to describe who the Lord is and what He does - our invitation is to put our trust in Him.  In light of all the political upheaval right now I think it is a good reminder where our trust and hope ultimately can and should rest.  No matter who "wins" God is always up to these things and we as His people can participate with Him in His action. 

Psalm 146:1-10 NCV
"Praise the Lord! My whole being, praise the Lord. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praises to my God as long as I live. Do not put your trust in princes or other people, who cannot save you. When people die, they are buried. Then all of their plans come to an end. Happy are those who are helped by the God of Jacob. Their hope is in the Lord their God. He made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in it. He remains loyal forever. He does what is fair for those who have been wronged. He gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free. The Lord gives sight to the blind. The Lord lifts up people who are in trouble. The Lord loves those who do right. The Lord protects the foreigners. He defends the orphans and widows, but he blocks the way of the wicked. The Lord will be King forever. Jerusalem, your God is everlasting. Praise the Lord!"

Mark 7:14-23 NCV
"After Jesus called the crowd to him again, he said, “Every person should listen to me and understand what I am saying. There is nothing people put into their bodies that makes them unclean. People are made unclean by the things that come out of them. [ Let those with ears use them and listen.]”  When Jesus left the people and went into the house, his followers asked him about this story. Jesus said, “Do you still not understand? Surely you know that nothing that enters someone from the outside can make that person unclean. It does not go into the mind, but into the stomach. Then it goes out of the body.” (When Jesus said this, he meant that no longer was any food unclean for people to eat.) And Jesus said, “The things that come out of people are the things that make them unclean. All these evil things begin inside people, in the mind: evil thoughts, sexual sins, stealing, murder, adultery, greed, evil actions, lying, doing sinful things, jealousy, speaking evil of others, pride, and foolish living. All these evil things come from inside and make people unclean.”"

Ephesians 4:17-24 NCV
"In the Lord’s name, I tell you this. Do not continue living like those who do not believe. Their thoughts are worth nothing. They do not understand, and they know nothing, because they refuse to listen. So they cannot have the life that God gives. They have lost all feeling of shame, and they use their lives for doing evil. They continually want to do all kinds of evil. But what you learned in Christ was not like this. I know that you heard about him, and you are in him, so you were taught the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught to leave your old self—to stop living the evil way you lived before. That old self becomes worse, because people are fooled by the evil things they want to do. But you were taught to be made new in your hearts, to become a new person. That new person is made to be like God—made to be truly good and holy."

2 Peter 1:3-7 NCV
"Jesus has the power of God, by which he has given us everything we need to live and to serve God. We have these things because we know him. Jesus called us by his glory and goodness. Through these he gave us the very great and precious promises. With these gifts you can share in God’s nature, and the world will not ruin you with its evil desires. Because you have these blessings, do your best to add these things to your lives: to your faith, add goodness; and to your goodness, add knowledge; and to your knowledge, add self-control; and to your self-control, add patience; and to your patience, add service for God; and to your service for God, add kindness for your brothers and sisters in Christ; and to this kindness, add love."

These verses in 2 Peter are amazing!  It says, "We have been given everything we need to live and serve God," why? Because we KNOW Him.  It also says, "the world will not ruin us."  Often times as Christians we operate in the place of fear and intimidation of the world and the evilness that we see around us.  But as Jesus said in Mark 7, it isn't what comes in that ruins us it is what comes out.  Ephesians 4 shows us that we are new people, with new hearts.  Since, you have been given a new nature, you can operate in the confidence of it all.  These verses give us a very practical way to walk out this reality, by walking in the GIFTS we have been given by Jesus: 

faith + goodness + knowledge + self-control + patience + service + kindness + LOVE
how we live a life of service to God

Were guilt, fear, condemnation, trying harder in the list?  

No, they aren't in the list.  So instead continue to get to KNOW Him and the beauty of His character: Creator, loyal, fair, provider, freedom giver, lover, protector and defender (Psalm 145) and then operate freely in His gifts to you.

In Christ,

The Intimacy of Grace

This post is dedicated to my former pastor Shane Holden, who plucked his one string guitar, "God loves you, even in your weakness."  Hearing that message over and over again and continuing to carry it in my heart continues to peel off layers of blindness.

I was reading through the story of David and Bathsheba the other day.  This is a well known story, that we've all heard millions of times.  Well, I got to the last verse of this story and a verse, that I never recall hearing before, practically jumped out at me:

2 Samuel 12:25
The Lord loved him, and sent a message by the prophet Nathan; so he named him Jedidiah, because of the Lord.

As I read this, I literally stopped and looked up and then down again to make sure the verse was still there and that reading it was not my imagination.  This verse is talking about Solomon, whom we know is named - Solomon - not Jedidiah.  But here you have the Lord himself sending a message saying for him to be named- Jedidiah.  You kind of think if God said, "Name him this," you would name him that! Knowing that names are significant in the Bible I couldn't wait to find out what it meant and to discover what was happening in the background.

So curiosity got the best of me, and I was led on a wonderfully, exciting journey of discovery.  The first opportunity I had, I found out that Jedidiah means, "my beloved."  This meaning totally captured my heart.  I then quickly did a search of commentaries to see if anyone else was blown away by it and if they could shed some light on why Solomon is called Solomon and not Jedidiah.  After reading through 7 commentaries, I got a few hints as to what was going on but I still felt like the magnitude of this verse was overlooked.

First, I found out that in 1 Chronicles 22:9 it says,

But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign.

So the name, Solomon was also a name that God had given him, thus he is called Solomon not Jedidiah.  Secondly, I found out that Solomon is a fore running picture of Christ.  Thus, the name Solomon is a picture of Jesus who is our Prince of Peace.  But another commentary brought to light how the name, Jedidiah, was also a prophetic picture of Christ fulfilled in Luke 9:35,

And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.

Finally, a commentary mentioned that perhaps this was a name that Nathan or Bathsheba called him.  When I stepped back from all of it and combined everything together, it all began to dawn on me, Jedidiah was a nickname, a name of intimacy, a name of grace.

Considering that, I was even more blown away by it all; I had to rewind with this in mind and look back at the full story that ends with this verse (you can read it all in 2 Samuel 12).  We have David, a man after God's own heart, fall into sin  that makes The Desperate Housewives look not so desperate.  David sleeps with another man's wife, gets her pregnant, tries to have the husband sleep with her but he won't, then has the man killed.  As you read this, you see opportunity, after opportunity for David to admit what is going on, but he plows on and God allows him to plow forward.  After all this is done, then the Lord comes and speaks to David:

I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight?

You can hear the cry of God in this, as to the why; why did you mistrust my heart and not know that I am generous towards you?  These decisions by David lead to consequences that end up hurting the rest of his kingship and his family line.  In addition, the baby conceived in this mess ends up dying.

Somewhere in this timeline, David ends up writing Psalm 51 which we all know well: "Create in me a clean heart, Oh God, take not thy Holy presence from me..."

The story ends, however, with a gift from God, the gift of Solomon.  A man of peace, a picture of Christ and a daily promise and reminder from God to David and Bathsheba of God's intimate, redeeming love.  You see, I do believe Solomon was called Jedidiah - my beloved - but it was not by "the people" but it was by his family.  Whenever they would say, "Jedidiah" they were reminded that God's answer to David's prayer is - "my beloved."

You see He is a redeeming God, a forgiving God, it is not based upon merit, or upon our actions it is all rooted in His LOVE.  The summary of this chapter is, "The mess you are in, this is not what I intended, this is not what I had planned for you... yet even after all of that I will step in, I will redeem and it will be through my Beloved."

This verse did one more thing for me though.  Over the years, I've heard people say, "We are God's beloved."  While I obviously knew that God loved me, I had been unwilling to take the intimacy of that name, "My beloved" and apply it to myself, as an individual.  You see I had heard that like John, who defines himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 21:20) we too could define ourselves that way.  I also heard others say, that the message Jesus heard as He arose from baptism is the same message that God speaks over our lives, but yet somehow, some way that was not enough for me.

However, after reading 2 Samuel 12:25 it dislodged me and I'm full in to being His beloved.  The fact that God himself, tapped Nathan on the shoulder and said, "Let them know, he is my BELOVED," astounded me.  After all the mess, after all the hurt the note that God wraps it all in is, "he is my beloved," and He gives a name, a nickname that is meant to be a daily reminder of His love to not only Solomon but to His whole family that they are loved.

In Christ,

A Story to Embody: September 2, 2012

The story continues to unfold.  God has invited us to cooperate with His Son in bringing the message of God's love to all.  The design that His kingdom moves through is the body of Christ.  Each one has an integral and important role.  It is so much more than showing up on a Sunday morning, it is designed to be a part of every movement of your life.  As you read through these verses, I pray that you will be excited as you recognize who you already are in Christ and where you have been placed to bring His message of freedom.  Finally, I pray that you would recognize that the way this is done is by moving to the rhythms of Christ.  His love is what gives the sustenance, strength and ability to take your place in the Body of Christ.

Matthew 28:16-20 (The Message)
16-17Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion. The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally.

 18-20Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: "God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age."

Romans 12:1-2, 4-8
1-2 So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
4-6In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.

 6-8 If you preach, just preach God's Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don't take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.

Ephesians 4:7-16
7-13But that doesn't mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift. The text for this is, 

   He climbed the high mountain, 
   He captured the enemy and seized the booty, 
   He handed it all out in gifts to the people.
Is it not true that the One who climbed up also climbed down, down to the valley of earth? And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up to highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ's followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ's body, the church, until we're all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God's Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.

 14-16No prolonged infancies among us, please. We'll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.

Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9
 My heart bursts its banks, spilling beauty and goodness. 
   I pour it out in a poem to the king, 
      shaping the river into words:
 2-4 "You're the handsomest of men; 
      every word from your lips is sheer grace, 
      and God has blessed you, blessed you so much. 
   Strap your sword to your side, warrior! 
      Accept praise! Accept due honor! 
      Ride majestically! Ride triumphantly! 
   Ride on the side of truth! 
      Ride for the righteous meek!

 6-7 "Your throne is God's throne, 
      ever and always; 
   The scepter of your royal rule 
      measures right living. 
   You love the right 
      and hate the wrong. 
   And that is why God, your very own God, 
      poured fragrant oil on your head, 
   Marking you out as king 
      from among your dear companions. 

 8-9 "Your ozone-drenched garments 
      are fragrant with mountain breeze. 
   Chamber music—from the throne room— 
      makes you want to dance. 
   Kings' daughters are maids in your court, 
      the Bride glittering with golden jewelry.

In Christ,

Scriptures correlate with sermons from Holy Trinity Anglican Church
Photo courtesy Melanie Guest Photography

Daily Prayer

Disqus for For His Glory Alone


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