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Showing posts from 2017

The Difference Between Patience and Mercy

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So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt (Matthew 18:26-27). Peter gets forgiveness wrong. But this is a good thing for us, because we usually get it wrong, too, and we get to hear Jesus’ wonderful response. He asks Jesus, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Peter may feel he’s being exceptionally generous with the offer, given the way the world works. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Mess with me a third time, and I’m blocking your calls and unfriending you on Facebook. That’s how the world works; yet Peter generously makes the offer of forgiving the offender not just twice, but seven times. But life in the kingdom of heaven is not like life in this world. Jesus is quick to correct Peter’s line of thought, saying, “I d…

The Kingdoms of Power and Grace

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“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother” (Matthew 18:15). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! “Ours is a world that is governed by the aggressive use of force.” That’s Rush Limbaugh’s Undeniable Truth of Life #6. In Rules for Radicals, Saul Alinsky says power is derived from two sources—money and people. “Have-Nots” build power from masses of people, corporations and governments use cash.  Limbaugh and Alinsky, opposite ends of the political spectrum, but they agree on one thing: Kingdoms of this world are built and kept and defended by power. It’s true. Kingdoms are built by cruelty, coercion, and compulsion; by brawn, battle, and bloodshed. You must have an awful lot of muscle if you’re going to make a kingdom in this world. Furthermore, if you want to build a kingdom you can’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. You mus…

Jesus' Bucket List

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“From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Matthew 16:21). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Are you familiar with the term “bucket list”? It was coined by Justin Zachman, a screenwriter, who created his own list, which he first called “Justin’s List of Things to Do Before I Kick the Bucket.” The first item on his own bucket list was to have a screenplay produced at a major Hollywood studio. Realizing that a “bucket list” could itself be fodder for a film, he wrote a screenplay about two dying men racing to complete their own bucket list. The film, “The Bucket List” was released in 2007, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Since that time, a lot of people have created their own bucket lists. Maybe you have one yourself. Visit Paris. Run with the bulls. Swi…

Lift Up Your Eyes to the Heavens

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“Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner; but My salvation will be forever, and My righteousness will never be dismayed” (Isaiah 51:6). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! It seems a fitting text for today, given the recent solar eclipse. Judging from news reports and social media, there were a lot of people who were “lifting their eyes up to the heavens.” Hopefully, they did so with ISO approved safety glasses. Throughout history, total eclipses have caused a wide variety of reactions, including curiosity, awe, superstitious fear, and impending doom. It seems this last one is no exception. Some people predicted that this eclipse would signal the end of the world, since it’s been exactly 70 years since the modern nation of Israel was established. Others have speculated th…

A Dogged Faith

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Click here to listen to this sermon. But she came and knelt before Him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And [Jesus] answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table” (Matthew 15:26-27). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! My one-year-old grandson, Boden, learned a new trick this week. When he’s full, he waits for their little dog, Poof, to come by. Then he reaches down from his high chair and hands Poof his leftovers and crumbs. Both of them seem quite happy with this arrangement. And let me tell you, when Poof has her teeth clamped on that scrap of food, you’re not going to get it away from her without a fight. The Canaanite woman was a lot like that little dog. When she got a hold of Jesus, she wasn’t going to let go until she got what she wanted—a few crumbs from the Master’s table. But Jesus wasn’t in a hurry to let her have them, eith…

Keep Your Eyes on Jesus!

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And Peter answered Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:28–31). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Lisa was a hospice nurse so she knew how fragile life can be. She had helped countless people go through the dying process with their spouse or parent or child. She’d been with many families as they went through the storms of illness and the loss of loved ones. But suddenly it hit much closer to home. It started when she fell and broke her own elbow. Ten days later her father fell and broke his neck. After 35 days in the intensive care unit, he went home to be with Jesus. A few wee…