Peaceful Rules of Engagement

Isaiah 9:6, Ephesians 6:15
 
And he will be called the Prince of Peace.
 
And having your feet fitted with the Gospel of Peace.
 
Jesus is both the “God” (Romans 16:20), and “Prince of Peace” and his Gospel creates the potential for peace in our relationships with God, others, ourselves, and our world. But how do we “do this peace” in a country so culturally and politically polarized?
 
(1) Realize that we are Jesus’ peace bearers. In Ephesians 2:14 Paul tells us that Jesus “IS our Peace” and as such has broken down the walls of division between God and us and us and others. Anyone can dig in. Anyone can be angry. Anyone can demonize. But Jesus didn’t do any of these things when dealing with us therefore, we must not either. Our identity in Christ is that of peace bearer, not political pundit!
 
(2) Respond with love, respect, and humility. In I Peter 3:15, the apostle Peter lays out instruction on HOW to deliver and defend the Gospel-
 
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…
Let’s apply the “gentleness and respect” rules whenever we are invited to state our political position. Peace bearers don’t shy away from a good vigorous debate. However, they do know that one “Gets more bees with honey than vinegar” and its far better to be “Hard on issues but soft on people.”
 
(3) Remember the greater good. Obviously, this is difficult to do during a heated debate on a hot topic but each Christian must remember that s/he is on a personal mission to woo others into the kingdom of the “Prince of Peace.” As American Christian citizens we are called to engage the political process however, we know that there is something WAY more important: winning others to Christ so that they too can experience his peace. That won’t happen if we act as if the next election is ultimate.
 
So church, let us get out there and vote our consciences as we realize who we are, respond with gentleness and respect towards those with different viewpoints, and remember the greater good, the “Kingdom of God and all of righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).
 
Agape,
 
Pj

Let’s Get On the Offensive

And take… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
(Ephesians 6:17)
Because what is manifested in the physical is a direct result of the spiritual, Paul reminds the Ephesian congregation to put on the (v 11-12)…
 
Full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
 
Why do we need to put on spiritual armor? Paul explains,
 
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
 
The “rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world and spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms” Paul speaks about are spiritual entities that seek only to annihilate God, his church, and his creation. The six pieces of armor the church is to put on are:
 
The belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, gospel of peace,
shield of faith, and helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit.
 
Of the six pieces mentioned here only one is an offensive weapon, “The Sword of the Spirit.” What is the “Sword of the Spirit? It is the “Word of God.” In Hebrews 4:12 we are told that the Word of God, “Is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword.” In the Book of Revelation we see that Jesus, nicknamed the “Word of God” (John 1:1-4) will conquer all end-time hostile forces with, “A sharp sword” (Revelation 19:15). While he was being tempted in the wilderness (after fasting forty days) Jesus was able to stave off each demonic attack by using the Word of God (Matthew 4).
 
So how is the Word of God our best offensive weapon in this fierce spiritual battle? Simple. It is the truth. All truth resides in God, in what he says, and what he does, which is why Jesus said, “I am the truth” (John 14:6). The devil, on the other hand, is the “Father of lies” and a “Liar from the beginning” (John 8:44). He can’t stand the truth, he hates it, and he recoils in fear in the face of it because it reveals what an abject being he truly is along with his wicked schemes.
 
In football they say, “The best defense is a great offense” meaning that if the other team doesn’t have the ball it can’t score. So the best way we can defeat the spiritual entities mentioned above is to know, memorize, and then speak the truth of the Word of God into every place and circumstance. So church, let’s get on the offensive by using the “Sword of the Spirit” and come to the Bay Point Brunch and Bible on Sunday Mornings to learn how.
 
Agape,
 
Pj

Love God XI-How To Love Your First Love Again

Introduction:
How many of you remember your first love? Of course you do! You never forget that very first person that caught your eye and stole your heart. My first love was a cute little blond I first met in sixth grade. Pretty much every day until our senior year I couldn’t take my eyes off her but was way too intimidated to ever talk to her or ask her out. Yes, there were plenty of other loves in the interim. I didn’t earn 2nd as “Class Flirt” for nothing. However, no matter who I was with I could never get my first love out of my mind, nor did I want to.
 
Did you know that we very seldom marry our first loves? One research firm has estimated that it’s less than 25% of the time. That’s a 75% fail rate on first loves. However, against all odds, tremendous competition, and the fact that she broke my heart on several occasions, we became, and still are, part of that 25%. Today, we continue our “Love God” series in Revelation 2:1-7. Here we see how to stay in red-hot love Jesus, our spiritual first love forever.
1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
 
The Christ Letters
What we have just read is the first of the seven famous “Christ letters” which were addressed to the churches of Asia Minor. This one was addressed to the church of Ephesus. Ephesus was a wealthy and magnificent city. It was the crown jewel of Asia Minor, the seat of the Roman Proconsul, and the commerce capitol of Asia. Situated at the end of the great road of Euphrates, its harbor accommodated the most massive sailing vessels of its day. It was such an important city that the Roman emperor Domitian allowed a statue of his image to be built there. This was also the center of the worship of the goddess Diana. In AD 52, the apostle Paul had visited it on his way from Corinth to Jerusalem (Acts 18). On his 3rd missionary trip he spent three years there establishing a robust and flourishing church. After he left, he wrote a beautiful letter of the NT to the Ephesian congregation. However, 40 years later, the apostle John, while exiled on the Isle of Patmos, penned these “Christ Letters.” A lot can happen in 40 years!
 
Christ’s Commendation
Christ commends the Ephesians for several reasons: 1) It didn’t fold under intense Roman persecution. 2) It did not tolerate the teaching of false prophets. 3) It detested the works of the Nicolaitans: a group that wooed Christians into idolatry. In sum, Christ applauds the church for its orthodoxy, faithfulness under persecution, and theological correctness. From the outside everything looks fantastic! Who wouldn’t want to join this church?
 
Christ’s Condemnation
However, despite external appearances, something was radically wrong with this church despite its numbers and affluence. Jesus states the problem directly, “You have forsaken me, your first love” (2:4). For all of its positives it forgot to keep the main thing the main thing. The main thing that makes a church a church had evaporated.
 
At the time John sent the Christ Letters an entire generation of Ephesians had emerged without direct contact to Paul. This new generation lacked the red-hot passionate love for Christ that the first generation had possessed. Without this love for Christ this church had head without heart, knowledge without zeal, and smoke without fire. That’s the death loop for any church (relationship)! The Ephesians love for Jesus had evaporated into the cool mist of indifference. Unfortunately, the older a church gets the easier for this to phenomenon to happen. Evangelist Edmond Robb writes:
 
It takes three generations to backslide. The first generation has the love and commitment. The second generation has the memory and respect. The third generation has lost the memory & respect.
 
Lampstand: Old and New
Twice, Christ calls this church to return to him as its first love. If it does he will not remove its lampstand. In the OT, lampstands were used to illuminate the Temple and provide a visual reminder of God’s presence. They were made out of pure gold, filled with olive oil, and stood on the south side of the Temple. In the NT, lampstands became symbolic of the light of the Church shining in the midst of spiritual and moral darkness (Revelation 1:20). Jesus had this imagery in mind when he told to his disciples, “You are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14). It is the oil in the lamp, however, that represents the Church’s love for Christ. The amount of oil determines the intensity, heat, and brightness of the flame. As the oil keeps the lamp lit, so love for Christ keeps the church alive.
 
The Promise
If the church returns to its first love, Jesus promises that they will eat of the “Tree of Life in the paradise of God.” One would think that this offer of eternal reward would provide powerful motivation for the spiritually cold to heat up. Unfortunately, however, the Ephesians never recaptured Christ as their first love and now, tragically there is no longer a Christian church in Ephesus today. Its lampstand was removed. In Matthew 24:12, Jesus predicted that during the end times, “Love for him will grow cold.” This means that glaciers of spiritual coldness will freeze out much of our love for Christ.
 
Parallels
In many ways the contemporary church parallels the historical situation of Ephesus: prosperous, theologically sophisticated, and inundated by the culture of consumerism. These things, along with a plethora of activities and distractions, temptations and seductions, are trying to cool out our love for Jesus. If Christ sent a letter to Bay Point today what would it say? Not regarding our beautiful buildings and wonderful worship, but in terms of our love for him? The core reason a church’s lampstand is removed is not bad demographics but because it falls out of love with its first love. Even the super saint, Keith Green worried about this spiritual condition when he sang,
 
My eyes are dry, my faith is old, my heart is hard, my prayers are cold.
 
Conclusion
Keeping Jesus as our first love is both the most awesome and most difficult thing to do. How do we do it?
 
(1) Commit or re-commit to loving Christ first and above all (The Phone Call).
(2) Remember, love is a commitment, not a feeling. Commit to love Christ!
(3) Spend time with Christ in Prayer, Word, and Ministry (v5).
The more we know Jesus the more we love him so let’s us habitually do these things mentioned above. If we do, our love Jesus will be so hot we will be able to blowtorch the end-time glaciers of spiritual coldness that are sweeping over our church and country.

Who Loves More?

Luke 7:40-43
 
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. 41 “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
 
Jesus is invited to a dinner party by a Pharisee named Simon. Jesus, because he loves people and parties, gladly accepts. As the evening progresses a woman, described as “living a sinful life” breaks with all cultural customs and social norms. In spectacular fashion she drops to her knees and washes Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume and her very own hair! She does this strange act even while crying up a storm. Her odd behavior catches the judgmental eye of Simon and the other religious elite. They immediately belittle the woman and begin to reason, “If Jesus was really a vaunted prophet he would know the kind of woman who had done this to him. Their logic: Since the woman had a sordid moral past there was no way a holy prophet of God would ever allow her to get within a hundred yards of him let alone permit physical contact.
Jesus hears the whine of their objection and in response summons Simon over to his table. He asks Simon, “If two people owe a lending agency some money, the first $500 and the second $50 but in no way could repay but the lending agent said, “Don’t worry about it this time boys, I am in a generous mood, both of your debts are forgiven in full.” “Simon, which of the two would love the agent more?” Simon says, “That’s easy, the one who owed more.” Jesus said, “You may not be the smartest knife in the drawer but you certainly got this one right.”
Here we see the connection between love, forgiveness, and gratitude. Like the two debtors, the woman that had “sinned greatly” loved Jesus way more than the Pharisees did, because he had forgiven her of so much. The Pharisees were known for their morally upstanding lives but they loved Jesus a whole lot less (if at all) because they had far less for which to be forgiven. Or did they?
 
The Scriptures are clear in places like Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:23, and 6:23 that “We are sinners because we sin and sin because we are sinners” and as such, we all owe an infinite debt to our infinitely holy God. Obviously, Jesus paid our debt in full with his sinless, substitionary, and sacrificial death on the Cross. Hallelujah! But if we believe that we are basically good folks because, “We don’t smoke, drink, or chew or run with those who do thus are sins are really not that bad” our gratitude levels will plummet and take with it our love for Christ.
 
Now don’t get me wrong. God wants us to be good and live good moral lives and the sooner the better! However, our top-of-mind-awareness even for best among us, simply needs to be, “We have been forgiven a whole heck of lot because even one of our sins has the power to separate us from God and land us in hell in forever.” So let’s keep the attitude of gratitude for Jesus high and watch as greater love for him grows in our souls.
 
Agape,
 
Pj

A Day of Incredible Favor

Numbers 6: 24-26
24 The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.
 
Since our souls live on promises it’s a good faith exercise, no I take that back, it’s a necessary faith exercise, to fill our hearts with the promises of God. This morning I am dwelling on the one the Lord gave to Moses to give to Aaron to announce to the Israelites. I count at least six blessings in this Numbers 6:24-26 which I am going pray in on you and me today. That the Lord will (1) bless you, (2) keep you, (3) make his face to shine on you, (4) be gracious to you, (5) turn his face to you, (6) give you peace.
Wow, that’s a lot of blessings! I love and want them all but I’m particularly focused on two which are similar: “The Lord make his face shine on you,” and “The Lord turn his face toward you.” In ancient mid-eastern culture if someone “faced” you it meant that he “noticed you with the intent of favoring you.”
Our God loves to bless us so expect his favor in everyone and everything you encounter today.
 
For his glory and our joy!
 
Pj

Get out of the Bubble by Praying and Voting

I Timothy 1:1-2

 

   1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—     2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

 

As I have been watching the news lately, especially regarding the civil unrest and unrelenting violence occurring in our major cities, two thoughts keep surging through my mind. The first is that we are living in one big bubble the spheres of which are our church and regional area.

In one sense, living in this big bubble is very fortunate being that we have been largely protected/shielded from the violence (at least up until now). Thank God for that! However, in another sense, living in this bubble is very unfortunate in that it cocoons us from the pain and suffering that is plaguing our fellow citizens. It’s difficult to develop a real compassion and deep empathy for what others tragically experiencing if we are not ourselves “walking in their footsteps.”

The second thought is that the violence we are witnessing is demonic in nature. PERIOD! All violence is a fulfillment of the devil’s vision to “Rob, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10) God’s people, church, and creation. As we watch the murder and mayhem our spirits need to be grieved for the devil truly is having his way in many parts of our country. Moreover, we need to WAKE UP to this spiritual reality and push back against this “present demonic darkness” (Ephesians 6:12).

We push back in two ways. As Christ followers we employ our most powerful spiritual weapon as Paul describes it in I Timothy 2:1. We pray and we pray hard, and we pray with an urgency and passion we’ve never had before and we pray as if there is no tomorrow.

As citizens we push back by doing or best to vote in “Law and Order” candidates, regardless of political affiliation. According to our passage this morning and Romans 13, God wants peace in our world and has ordained the government to create it and maintain it. If political leaders are derelict in this God given duty then we need to vote in people who take it seriously. Without peace, there really isn’t much left.

So, my “inbubbled” people, will you pray and vote with me until peace is restored and violence is stopped?

Agape,

Pj

Love God X And Yourself

Introduction:
I have been trying to conclude our “Love God” series for four weeks now but every time I do, God, to borrow a famous line from “The God Father Part III,” movie:
“Just when I was out he pulls me back in.”
 
To qualify: I love this series and the more I pray about it, study it, and learn from it, the more it transforms me. However, this series is very challenging isn’t it? I mean, loving God first and with all, and our neighbors, which we saw last week was anyone in need at any time, shows me just how imperfect my love is and that I am a long-range love project.
 
Love Self?
I call the Great Commandment the “Love Trifecta” whereas we love God first, neighbors second, and self, third. How many do you know that we are most fulfilled and happy when we keep to this love priority? But what about loving self? It’s a command so it’s not optional, especially if we want eternal life. But for some, it may be the most difficult aspect of the love trifecta. Afterall, it’s a lot easier just to love God. Look at how loving he is! For many, it’s easier to love others, especially if you come from a loving family and are generally a kind and compassionate person. However, the only way we can be healthy: spiritually, emotionally, and relationally speaking, is if we love ourselves. Moreover, we can only love God, the way he deserves and love others, the way they need, if we love ourselves the way God wants us to. However, loving self is as beautiful as it is difficult so here’s a few reasons why we need to do it.
 
#1 God Loves Himself
God loves himself. No, we are not going to find a direct scripture where God says, “Hey, I love myself.” However, God’s love for himself is implied and inferred throughout the Bible. God is the Maximal Being and therefore the healthiest, emotionally and interpersonally speaking. Plus, according to I John 4:8, “God IS love” and as such loves everyone including himself. Could God be the source of all love if he didn’t love himself? As the hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy” declares, God is “Perfect In Power, Love, and Purity.”
 
We see that God loves himself in the interplay between the Father, Son, and HS. Jesus said numerous times, “The Father loves me” (Matthew 5:20, John 3:35, John 15:9). Concordantly, he told his disciples that one of his primary reasons for going to the Cross was that the “World will know that I love my Father” (John 14:31). The Holy Spirit is first and foremost the “Spirit of Love” who loves both the Father and Son even as the Father and Son love him. Together the Trinity represents the original community of mutual, reciprocal, life-giving love. Now if we are made in God’s image as rational, spiritual, and volitional beings, and if God loves himself then shouldn’t we love ourselves? The answer is obvious, not only because the GC commands it but so does Jesus in Matthew 5:48
 
Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.
 
The word translated for “perfect” here is the from the Greek telios. It doesn’t mean to be flawless or sinless as our heavenly Father. That’s impossible. In the Matthew 5 context it does mean to be “mature” or “complete” in love. “Be mature and complete in love even as your heavenly Father is mature and complete in love” is what Jesus is saying (impartiality is the most mature aspect of love). From this passage John Wesley constantly asked the People Called Methodist, “Are you being perfected in love?” Can we be mature and complete in love if we don’t love ourselves? And everyone said, “No Way Hosea!”
#2 God Loves You
The 2nd reason to love self is because God loves you (and I’m trying lol). Out of his self-love God loves us unconditionally, sacrificially, proactively, and eternally. Now I know the focus of our series is to love God but we couldn’t do this unless he “First loved us” (I John 4:19). We all know John 3:16, “For God so love the world he gave us Jesus.” As incomprehensible as his love is however, it is not to be taken generally or vaguely but specifically and personally. God loves you even if you alone were the only person in the universe.
 
God loves you in that he uniquely created YOU. God loves you in that he dances over YOU and delights in YOU! YOU are his beloved and as such nothing above the world, nothing on the world, and nothing under the world can separate YOU from his love (Romans 8:31-35). And when we love Jesus we get even more of God’s love, if that’s possible. Listen to what Jesus says in John 14:21,
 
The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love them…
 
Now that’s a whole lotta love! I love that my wife and family love me, at least a little bit. I love that my friends, even the unpaid ones, love me. I love that you love me as well even if it’s poketo. But when I think that God, for all that he is, is all in, in his love for me, then I must give it the old college try when it comes to loving myself.
#3 God Pours his Love Into You
We need to love ourselves because God loves himself. We need to love ourselves because God loves us. Lastly, we need to love ourselves because God pours his love into us. If we are Christ followers today, then we have Niagara Falls of divine love cascading into our hearts. Listen to John 17:26 and Romans 5:5
 
I have made you known to them and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.
 
Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
 
“To pour” in Romans 5:5 is a perfect passive indicative verb. It indicates that God, through his HS has poured, and continually pours, his divine love into us. It’s not a one-time fill-up (gas tank analogy)! When people ask me, “How can I love people who annoy me” I usually go one better, “You best do way better than that and love your enemies, the unlovable, your neighbors and everyone else.” I then say, “We can’t love anyone unless we first allow God to fill our hearts with his love.” How then can we love ourselves? The same way: ask God to pour firehoses worth of love into our hearts until they overflow with love for self.
 
Conclusion: Self-Love Blocks
Before Charles comes for a few minutes to talk about how to remove “Love Blocks” I want to share something personal. I grew up in a family that was devastated by alcoholism. My sister and I suffered all the syndromes associated with that addiction. Therefore, the only love we ever experienced was conditional, transactional, and performance based. The worst of all loves! Although I have been a devoted Christ follower since I was a kid, I have always struggled with God’s love for me and consequentially, self-love. Now this struggle is not a theological or biblical. I always believed, “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” It is, however, an emotional one. The devil knows this of course, and as such, is always trying to get me to doubt (and everyone else) two fundamental things: (1) God’s love and (2) My identity as a beloved child of God. To combat this demonic work, I have often prayed, “God I want to feel your love even when I’m not doing anything.” You know what he’s been telling me lately? “I love you whether you feel it or not. However you will feel my love more when you love yourself more.” Charles please come now and share.

Cherry or Dreary? Your Choice

Colossians 3:1-2
 
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
 
Since our emotions generally flow from the specific topics we dwell on what would happen if each day we got up and right from the “get go” intentionally set our hearts and minds on heavenly things? When we capture a mental framework of the “things above” namely where Christ sits, and consciously think about all that he is, all that he HAS done for us, all that he IS doing for us, and all that he WILL do for us, we automatically start the day generating good emotions and feelings.
Conversely, when we start the day thinking about the conditions of the world or our personal issues, we, as it were, “get up on the wrong side of the bed” and most likely, our emotions and feelings will be negative.
 
We only have so many days on this planet and the good news is we have the power to make each one either cherry or dreary, regardless of our circumstances. So in order to start off each day with our “sunny side up and our bottoms dry” let’s make a big effort to set our hearts and minds on things above. We’ll be happy and blessed if we do.
 
Agape,
 
PjCherr

Identity Theology

 
God said, “Let us make humanity in our image.”
(Genesis 1:27)
 
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
(Psalm 139:14)
 
From these incredible passages we see that God alone is the Author of life. In distinction to the other forms of life which God created, only humanity is said to be made “In his image” (i.e., as rational, volitional, and spiritual creatures) and has within it the very breath of God (Genesis 2:7). Therefore, this life is intrinsically precious, sacred, valuable, and full of worth. David celebrates “spectacular-ness” of all human life calling it, “Fearfully and wonderfully made.”
What has dominated the American political landscape the last decade or so is a thing called identity politics. Simply put, identity politics is the creation of political forces aligned around a specific group’s identity, e.g., skin color, sexual preference, religious choice. Although every American has the right to political representation, identity politics, by its very nature, is insidious in that it tends to fracture our overall national identity as Americans. As a citizen of America, I am concerned about this ongoing polarization and wonder how a divided nation can survive let alone flourish?
 
As a citizen of the Kingdom of God, however, I want to encourage my fellow Christ followers not to fall for identity politics based on the simple truth that our identity is first and foremost in Christ. One of the primary objectives of Jesus’ redemptive work on the Cross was to remove all barriers that sinful humanity has enacted and erected against itself. Paul, in Galatians 3:28 revels in this astonishing fact:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female,
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
 
Regardless of our created identity, we are a redeemed and transformed humanity in Christ. We are a new humanity and are no longer divided along racial, class, or gender considerations! This doesn’t mean however, that we can’t praise God for our “born identity” regardless of what politicians or critical race theorists may say. I am not inherently evil because God has created me with the immutable characteristics of a white male. I had no choice in the matter! Because I am created in “God’s image” my white maleness reflects God’s creative will and even something about his personality much as it does for everyone else regardless of his/her gender or color. I celebrate in WHAT God has created me and I celebrate in WHAT he has created you.
 
Let’s rejoice that God has created us with such amazing diversity. However, let us never allow this same diversity to divide us, either as a Church or as “One nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
 
Here’s praying we won’t.
 
Agape,
 
Pj

Rest!

Matthew 11:28-30
 
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
 
After revealing who he is, namely the Son of God and God the Son, Jesus makes a deal none of us should refuse: “Come to Me.” This is an invitation for those weary and burdened by life (burnt out) to come and find rest for their souls.
This “rest” however, is not a passive put-your-feet-up-and-sit-back-and-relax kind of rest but an active rest. In order to off-load life’s heavy burdens we must, surprisingly, take on another burden, albeit, an easier and lighter one. That burden is the “yoke” of Jesus.
 
Yokes were harness types of equipment that were placed upon the shoulders and necks of farm animals to guide them in plowing straight rows for crops. If you will, yokes were ancient steering wheels. So what Jesus is offering us is to steer us, “Into paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:6). But what is his yoke? His yoke is his teaching which we joyfully volunteer to obey.
So by a deliberate act of faith today, let’s shed those worldly burdens (I Peter 5:7) and ask Jesus to place his yoke upon us. If we do we will find a new spiritual and emotional energy we never imagined.
 
Agape,
 
Pj