I want to lose 20 pounds. So I have to ask myself: Is a slimmer figure and a lower cholesterol number worth giving up soda? Or learning portion control? Or sacrificing so much other tasty stuff? I struggle with the question of whether it's worth it.
Then [Jesus] turned to his host. "When you put on a luncheon or a banquet," he said, "don't invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you."
"Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose."
This week, we've remembered the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001. Maybe you've already heard the tale of John McLoughlin and William Jimeno, those two Port Authority Policemen whose story Oliver Stone made into a movie a few years ago. You see, John and William were the guys rescued after being buried in the rubble for 13 and 21 hours respectively. Today, I want us to think about how that had to feel for those twelve and a half hours before they were found, completely surrounded by death, absolutely trapped and unable to move, buried under the debris of ...
Do you remember where you were when everything changed? September 11th...10 years ago Sunday, at 8:46 a.m. - American Airlines, flight 11 was crashed into the World Trade Center's north tower. And within a couple hours there were 2,996 dead, including 411 emergency workers, heroes who gave their lives to save others. Sept. 11 is a day that changed America. And we remember it. Terrorism hit us hard. And as a result, we will never be the same.
Are all religions the same? Do all roads really lead to heaven? Last week we looked at Luke 13:22-30, where Jesus made so clear the need to speak precisely when you're talking about religion and your relationship with God. Do you remember how he said that when the time comes, there would be those who thought they were just fine with God in this life who would be "outside, knocking and pleading"? But Jesus will answer, "I don't know you or where you come from," (Luke 13:27).
They told Amelia Bedelia to "hit the road" and she took a stick and started punishing the asphalt. They told her to make "chocolate chip cookies" and she got out the Hershey's and the potato chips. Now, for a children's book character, when she doesn't "get it," that's funny. But when we realize that all too often we do that same thing with religion, the chuckles cease.
It's good to be established, isn't it? I'm sure you've seen businesses advertising how long they've been around, "Est. 1853" or something like that. Have you ever thought about why some companies or schools last so long? It has something to do with that word "established," doesn't it? Well today, in our reading from God's word - Paul prays that God establishes us, his readers.