All of the fasting and praying leading up to that night was to prepare us to listen to one another in the Spirit, to lower our defenses and hear about somebody else’s experience with no reference to our own! It was to focus our attention outward, away from ourselves, to receive whatever Jesus might have to say.
Church was tough this past Sunday. It was tough for everybody.
I’m not sure how other churches dealt with the events that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia this past Saturday. But our desire at City Fellowship has always been to deal with issues of race in a truthful way. Whenever Neo-Nazis and KKK groups are involved with racialized incidents, an easy bad-guy is made available to us. We can all denounce their racist rhetoric, and feel good about being right… But have we been truthful??
What does it mean to be a True Servant? On Sunday we began looking at Jesus' last meal with His disciples, and found that True Service is, as Pastor Russ said, "Love with legs on it." Jesus loved us with a "Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Un-breaking, Always and Forever Love" that took Him to the cross, and then called us to love others in the same way by serving them.
The great Charles Spurgeon once said that the scriptures are like a lion in a cage… You don’t have to defend a lion. You just open the door and let it out.
The scripture speaks for itself today. Read it slow and let it sink in. I have quoted it in the King James, because this passage has a “drop the mic” quality that other translations kind of miss. I am praying that you will let the the truth contained below out of the cage and let it run free in your heart today… And I will see you at church, where we will celebrate the truth together!
Before the University system really began to take hold, the way that one was “certified” to work in a certain field was through apprenticeship. In order to learn a trade and to gain the credentials necessary to work in that trade, one had to seek out a master that would be willing to train them and vouch for them at the end of the apprenticeship.
One my favorite images in the parable of the Prodigal Son (or Prodigal Father as we have been calling it), is the image of the father calling for his best robe, so that he can wrap it around the shoulders of his wayward child. The younger son, of course is returning from “a far country” where he has been working on a farm feeding the pigs, because he has squandered all his fathers money on "prostitutes and wild living”. I can only imagine what he looks like as he comes walking up the road to his childhood home.
Let me start with a confession… I have a hard time memorizing scripture. Especially the references! I am constantly saying in conversation “you know that one verse that says… where is that from??"
Well, the passage above is one of the few that ran the gauntlet and made it through to my memory bank. I struggle with fear sometimes, so that is how this verse made it on the short list for memorization (ah.. the few and the proud!).
When you realized that you made a mistake at work, did you listen to those same old voices in your head, reminding you how stupid you are and how you always make rookie mistakes? Or did you listen to the voice that says, “You are blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing… You have everything you need to do all the work I have called you to”?
Prepare yourself! The only sure thing about your day today, is that there will be MANY voices clamoring for your attention… And all those voices will have distinct opinions about what kind of person you should be. Those voices will come from advertisers, bosses, friends…. Even from folks that are no longer in your life at all but at one crucial moment, a long time ago, said something to you that still shapes your self-image today.
There is a sermon that I would REALLY like for you to hear... I know that your time is short, especially this time of year. But I don’t usually ask a lot of you do I?
If you didn’t get a chance to hear Jacob Vandiver’s sermon from Psalm 100 this past Sunday at City Fellowship, trust me when I say that it will bless your soul (you can find it HERE, if you are so inclined). I have heard a lot of sermons in my day, but every now and again, one just hits you where you live… And it just sticks with you.
When Pastor Russ challenged us all to read through the gospel of John together over the last two weeks, he suggested that we read two chapters a day. Well I’ve already fallen behind on that, which is something that would’ve made me feel like a failure even ten months ago. But not today. Because what God is speaking to me through John is “nothing”.
The first day we started reading John was like Christmas Day! I have spent many months reading through the Old Testament in my reading plan and I finished on the day we began reading John. What perfect timing. The Old Testament leaves you acknowledging the hopelessness of humanity and the dire need for a “fix” that God alone could supply. And John immediately brings the hope of Jesus, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5