Sunday, June 28, 2015
Mark 5:33-36 (RSV): Having Faith Amid the Tumult
But the woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before [Jesus], and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”
Jesus’ power over death and illness is apparent in this passage from Mark’s gospel. Christ rids us of the disease of sin and eternal death, and this happens through his atoning love on the cross. Since it is Christ’s work that saves us, are we, then, automatically liberated and made righteous before God? Jesus unfolds the answer throughout this passage, for he says, “Your faith has made you well” and “Do not fear, only believe.” Both statements point us to the necessity of an active faith in Christ, a faith that goes beyond simply saying to the depths of heart-felt belief. We must have faith, therefore, especially in the most troubling conditions such as death and chronic disease. Both the hemorrhaging woman and the synagogue official show their undying faith in Jesus’ healing power, and their prayers are answered according to their faith and God’s will.
Their stories could have ended differently, though. The hemorrhaging woman could have continued to spend her earnings on more doctors and false healings, and the synagogue official could have listened to the people from his house who proclaimed his daughter’s death. Instead, they choose to seek Christ through the tumult and noise of the world and have faith in his healing, life-giving touch. In our day-to-day living, let us do the same.
Discussion is Now a Blog:
May you all be blessed and encouraged in the love and peace of Christ.
Sunday, June 21, 2015
Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT): Living a Life of Love
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
Our lives should be controlled by the loving impulse of the Holy Spirit, and in that impulse we should strive to imitate God in love, just as Christ "loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us." Our lives, then, should reflect moments of loving sacrifice. What does self-sacrificial love in the modern world look like? That is a question with a very personal answer, for each of us are called to love in unique ways dictated by the context of our lives. Knowing the loving answer, however, is as simple as prayer. When we ask God to guide our actions according to His will, we are led to love. As we begin summer break and and bask in the gift of time with family, let us all pray that we, too, may imitate God and offer ourselves in love to others.
Monday, June 15, 2015
Ephesians 1:13-14 (TEV): God’s Promise, Guarantee, and Assurance
. . . You believed in Christ, and God put his stamp of ownership on you by giving you the Holy Spirit he had promised.The Spirit is the guarantee that we shall receive what God has promised his people, and this assures us that God will give complete freedom to those who are his. Let us praise his glory!
I don't like to gamble. I have been to Atlantic City approximately three times in my life, and during each visit I lost about $20 playing various slot machines. This type of loss and uncertainty always leaves me with a feeling of emptiness, and I readily think, I could have done something of value with that money.
God’s love in Christ, however, is never a gamble; it is a sure thing. When we invest ourselves through faith in Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit, therefore, is the “guarantee,” “promise,” and assurance of His love and "complete freedom" from sin, death, and the adversary. Through faith in Jesus Christ, “God [puts] his stamp of ownership” on us. And we can all rest assured that the Holy Spirit never results in a loss. Instead, we gain an eternal value that is incalculable.
In thanksgiving, let us reiterate what St. Paul states in the above passage: “Let us praise [God’s] glory!”
Monday, June 8, 2015
Romans 8:35-39 (GNT): Nothing Can Separate Us From God’s Love
Who, then, can separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble do it, or hardship or persecution or hunger or poverty or danger or death? As the scripture says,
“For your sake we are in danger of death at all times;
we are treated like sheep that are going to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! For I am certain that nothing can separate us from his love: neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future,neither the world above nor the world below—there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul argues that nothing can separate us from the love of God, other than our own choice to reject him. “[God] gave us his son -- will he not also freely give us all things?” Paul states that “there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.” God loves us all, imperfections and shortcomings aside. No matter what others might say, nothing can take God’s love away. We are sinners trying to do our best in Christ. Inevitably, we will fall short, sin, and feel unworthy. God loves us anyway.
When we fail (as I do often), we must keep trying, repent, confess, and receive his grace. This renews our fellowship with God and strengthens us as Christians. The temptation is to quit, falsely believe that God could never forgive us, and abandon all hope. But when we make the choice to have faith in Christ, we are full of hope and grow in his love.
The insightful Anglican writer and pastor, John Stott, writes in Basic Christianity that our relationship as God’s adopted children cannot be broken. But in the face of sin, however, we must repent, reconcile, confess, and be renewed:
‘But what happens if and when I sin?’ you may ask. ‘Do I then lose my status in God’s family and cease to be his child?’ No. Think of the analogy of a human family. Imagine a boy being offensively rude to his parents. A cloud descends on the home. There is tension in the atmosphere. Father and son are not on speaking terms. What has happened? Has the boy ceased to be a son? No. Their relationship is just the same; it is their fellowship which has been broken. Relationship depends on birth; fellowship depends on behaviour. As soon as the boy apologizes, he is forgiven. And forgiveness restores fellowship. Meanwhile, his relationship has remained the same. He may temporarily have been a disobedient, and even a defiant, son; but at no point did he stop being a son.
As we begin a new week, let us renew ourselves in Christ’s love, knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of God.