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Choose to Follow Christ!

14th Sunday after Pentecost

Choose to Follow Christ!

1. A decision enabled by God
2. A decision that flows from faith

Text:  John 6:60-69

I.

This is not easy.  This is difficult.  This is controversial.  This is a hard teaching . . . The silence was deafening.  Jaws were dropped.  Eyes were darting.  Brows were furled.  Heads were scratched.  This didn’t make sense!

Jesus had fed thousands of them with a few loaves of bread and two fish.  Maybe Jesus could give them some more food.  And if Jesus could give them food, maybe Jesus could give them some other things they needed, too.  They had diseases to be cured.  They had Roman taxes to be paid.  They needed to refinance the loans on their donkeys.

But then Jesus told them that they shouldn’t work so hard for bread.  They shouldn’t chase after things that spoil.  Instead they should work for bread that comes from heaven.  What did that mean?  Then Jesus said that he was bread from heaven.  How could Jesus of Nazareth be from heaven?  Read the rest of this entry

Daily Devotion on Exodus 7:8-13

Text:  Exodus 7:8-13

What was Moses thinking as he marched up the steps of Pharaoh’s palace? Once raised as an adopted son in this palace, now he was returning 40 years later with his brother as the new leader of the Israelites. Would Pharaoh listen? Would he get any respect? Would this powerful ruler laugh him back to the desert?

Surely, God gave him some powerful signs to bolster his faith and back his message. The first was an impressive miracle–Aaron’s staff thrown to the ground became a snake. Yet the “magic men” of Pharaoh simulated this act of power.

Even when Aaron’s staff-snake swallowed up the other snakes, it wasn’t impressive to Pharaoh. Amazingly, none of the God’s acts of power were “impressive enough” to Pharaoh–including all the mighty 10 Plagues!

This wasn’t because these acts of God weren’t powerful or astounding though. Pharaoh had simply hardened his heart against God and his Word. Pharaoh rejected God. Thus, Pharaoh also rejected Moses.

Lesson learned for the preaching Christian (which is every Christian!). We may go out into all the nations armed with just the right tools–God’s Word and God’s power. But sometimes people simply harden their hearts against the Lord. Like Pharaoh, they reject God, his message, and his messengers.

This is not to say that God’s Word isn’t powerful and doesn’t work. Just the opposite in fact. This shows God’s power in a different way. It shows the power of God’s Word in convicting and condemning the hearts of sinners. But when sinners refuse to believe their sin or refuse to believe in God’s forgiveness, their rejection of God is confirmed by his powerful Word.

Simply put, the Word of God works. Sometimes it works to comfort and bring forgiveness and salvation. Sometimes it works to convict and harden in unbelief.

So as we carry God’s Word into the world, like Moses marching up to Pharaoh, we can simply trust this:  We need not worry. God’s Word will work on its own as God sees fit!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you for your grace, that you have worked in our hearts with your powerful Word to give us faith and trust in you. Now we pray that as we share your Word with others, you work also in the hearts of others. Continue to work among those who do not yet know you, that they may come to know the truth and learn of your salvation. Embolden us to carry this message forward to all people. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotion on Galatians 5:1-6

Text: Galatians 5:1-6

Don’t you just hate the opinio legis?

Opinio Legis is a title for that part of each of us that wants to have some part in our salvation. The part that wants to earn heaven in some small way. Jesus offers us salvation free and clear, no strings attached. Since Jesus left this earth humans have been saying, “Yeah, salvation is free, but you have to do ­­____ (fill in the blank) to make it mean something to you.”

When Paul wrote Galatians these people were saying, “Yeah salvation is free, but you have to be circumcised to make it mean something to you.”

When Martin Luther started the Reformation the Roman Catholics were saying, “Yeah salvation is free, but you have to do penance, buy indulgences, go to confession… to make it mean something to you.”

Today many churches are saying, “Yeah salvation is free, but you have to accept God into your life to make it mean something to you.”

Paul says to all of these false teachers, “Mark my words! If you let yourselves be circumcised (do penance, believe you have to make a declaration to God), Christ will be of no value to you at all.” The Bible is very clear, either Jesus did it all or we are still dead in our sins. Either we are saved by Christ or we have to keep the whole law of God all day every day.

Jesus offers forgiveness free and clear, no strings attached. “Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slaver (to circumcision, to penance, to making a choice, to the law).” We are free in Christ, the only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love.

Prayer: Heavenly Father forgive us when we are tempted to doubt the all sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice for us. Give us the strength to live our lives in the joyful freedom that comes with our forgiveness. Embolden us to express our faith in you through our every act. Help us to live our lives in love, love for you and love for others. Amen.