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Showing posts from September, 2017

There Are No Firsts and Lasts in the Kingdom of Heaven

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[Jesus said:] “So the last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! “So the last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16). It’s a puzzling statement, to be sure. But the very fact that Jesus wrapped that statement around “The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard,” front and back, proves its seriousness. As a matter of fact, the parable itself is designed to explain this mysterious statement and we will look at that shortly. But before we delve into the parable, let’s first look at the preceding passage in Matthew to gain a better understanding of the context in which it was first made. The disciples had just witnessed the exchange between the rich young man and Jesus. It began when the man asked, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” The young man labored under the mistaken notion that he could somehow earn eternal life with good works and a…

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…