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Teach Us, Lord, Full Obedience

The 6th Sunday of Easter

Teach Us, Lord, Full Obedience

Text: John 14:23-29

This last week a boat was found off the coast of Bermuda by a Norwegian vessel ship.  Quickly it was identified as the boat of Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos, the two 14-year-olds who left on a fishing trip from Jupiter, FL 10 months ago and who have been missing ever since.  The two boys are still missing and now some are wondering if foul play was involved.

Speaking of investigations, there are plenty of others going on.  The FBI recently paid almost $1 million to unlock (semi-legally) an iPhone connected to the San Bernadino mass shooting.  Investigations are also continuing 10 days after the music industry lost legendary musician Prince, as to what exactly was his cause of death.  Then there was the tragic death of the two-year-old who drowned in her grandparents’ swimming pool in Port Orange Thursday night.

Also making the headlines this week was another baseball player, this one from the Miami Marlins, who was banned 80 games for steroids and the controversial football player drafted Thursday night by the Miami Dolphins who has found himself in a social media firestorm for past poor decisions.  (Not a good week for Miami sports.)  Oh, and who could leave out the headlines of the 20 arrested during the mini-riot at the Donald Trump rally on Thursday night? Read the rest of this entry

The New Covenant that Changes Everything

Maundy Thursday

The New Covenant that Changes Everything

Text: Hebrews 10:15-25

613.  Jewish tradition teaches that there are 613 commandments in the laws of Moses.  Could you even imagine keeping straight 613 commandments?  Most people I’ve met don’t even know all 10 Commandments.  How could you keep straight 613?  There were laws about cleanliness, laws about family, laws about civil justice, laws about worship and festivals and sacrifices.  613 laws to obey.

These laws served as a sort of hedge for the people of Israel.  They set them apart as being “different” than all the other people of the world.  They were cleaner.  They were more pure.  They were more sanctified in their living.  They were more dedicated to their God.  Thus, God told them that if they obeyed he would be their God and they would be his people.  If they obeyed, that is.

When they didn’t obey, that’s what the system of sacrifices was for.  If you committed this sin, then this sacrifice was required.  And if you committed that sin, then that sacrifice was required.  The message was loud and clear: God is holy.  If there is sin, there must be death and bloodshed to pay for it. Read the rest of this entry

A Blessed Fellowship

Maundy Thursday

A Blessed Fellowship

1. With Jesus
2. With each other

Text: 1 Corinthians 10:16-17

Have you ever wondered what it was like to live in the Garden of Eden?  That must have been spectacular.  No weeds.  No sweat.  No back pain or arthritis.  No sadness.  No stress.  No calendars or appointments.  No worms in your apples.  No bills.  No high priced gasoline.  Only peace, perfection, and paradise.

But there’s one other aspect of the Garden of Eden that would have been fantastic.  Perfect harmony and communion with God.  Adam and Eve were created in God’s image.  That means that they were perfect, righteous, and holy like God.  What would it have been like to live in perfect peace with God?  No fear of God because you had nothing to hide because you hadn’t done anything wrong.  You knew his word and his will and you always kept them.  If God showed himself and appeared, you wouldn’t run away because it was normal and perhaps even expected.  You were in perfect harmony and fellowship and communion with God.  What was there to be afraid of?

That’s hard for us to imagine, impossible to imagine even, because all we know is the exact opposite.  All we know is fear of God and disharmony and disunity that come from shame and guilt.   Read the rest of this entry

God Fulfilled His New Covenant Promise

Maundy Thursday

God Fulfilled His New Covenant Promise

Text: Hebrews 10:15-25

Intro

If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands . . . I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people . . . But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant . . . I will bring on you sudden terror . . . I will set my face against you . . . I will punish you for your sins.”

It couldn’t be more simple than that.  God established a very clear covenant with his people.  A covenant is a contract agreement between two parties.  This was the simple covenant God established with his people at Mt. Sinai:  If you obey me and my commands, I will bless you and be with you.  If you do not obey, I will turn from you and punish you for your sins.

God didn’t use hidden codes or secret passwords or confusing words.  He laid out the covenant ground rules in clear and easy to understand language.  You would think that they would have listened and kept the simple terms to this covenant.  After all, with such great promises of blessing from God, why wouldn’t they want to keep the covenant?

We tend to think that way often.  We tell our children not to play with the fine china and not to sass back and not to fight with each other.  Why wouldn’t they want to listen?  Don’t they want special privileges and treats from their parents?  Do they really want to spend the whole day in their rooms with no friends, no toys, and no electronics?

We think the same way in our school.  We tell students to be on time, to wear their uniforms to school, to do their homework, to be respectful to each other and to teachers.  Wouldn’t they want to listen?  Don’t they want good grades on tests and report cards?  Don’t they want special privileges and extra recess time?  Do they really want tardies, detentions, suspensions, or expulsion?

The covenant contract seemed to be so simple and easy.  But the evil sinful nature knows better and wants otherwise.  And Satan knows better and wants otherwise. Read the rest of this entry

Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

The Feast of Saint Simon and Saint Jude

Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

1. You have God’s pleasure
2. You have God’s presence
3. You have God’s peace

Text: John 14:21-27

Intro

Something wasn’t quite right.  The tension was nearly tangible.  It was as if something big was about to happen.

That whole week Jesus had been talking more and more about suffering and dying.  He had been saying he had to leave.  His preaching had been fiery—even turning over money tables in the temple.

Only hours before this, they began what was supposed to be just another ordinary Passover meal together.  But the tension only increased.  Jesus said that one of the Twelve was going to betray him.  Everyone was completely confused.  Judas ran out of the room.  What was that all about?  Then Jesus instituted a new meal with a new covenant for forgiveness.  Why was that necessary?  Then they sang a hymn and went out toward a favorite place of prayer—the Garden of Gethsemane.

As they were walking now, Jesus started back up with the “gloom and doom” talk.  He said Peter was going to deny him.  He said again that he was going to be leaving.  Where was he going?  What was going on here?  Peter was hurt that Jesus would think he would deny him.  Thomas asked where Jesus was going.  Philip asked to see God the Father because maybe that would help them believe.  We heard today how Judas asked why Jesus seemed to be revealing himself only to the disciples.

What was going on here!  The disciples were confused and concerned.  They were troubled and afraid. Read the rest of this entry