"You are all God's children through faith in Christ Jesus. All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."
Once you were far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don't drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News.
"I'm talking to you like you are sensible people. Think about what I'm saying. Isn't the cup of blessing that we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Isn't the loaf of bread that we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one loaf of bread, we who are many are one body, because we all share the one loaf of bread."
Why? It's a classic question. Anyone who has raised children knows the power of the "why." They always want to know why, and we don't grow out of it. So last week, when we looked at Jesus saying, "Follow me," we looked at how his word gives us the power to do that. We never quite got around to asking that kindergarten question - Why?
"And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ."
If I knocked on your door and asked you if you would rather die than give up the teaching I'm ready to share with you, how would you respond? If I called you on the phone as you were eating dinner and told you to give up your home and your car and your relationships and follow me, how would that go over? I'm guessing not so well, right? I don't think I'd have too many followers.
My youngest granddaughter just lost her third tooth. She is grinning at everyone to show the gaps in her teeth. As a joke, I asked my daughter if she was going to buy a flipper to cover the gaps. She looked at me blankly. I guess she doesn't watch "Toddlers & Tiaras."
"Oh, I must find rest in God only, because my hope comes from him! Only God is my rock and my salvation- my stronghold!-I will not be shaken. My deliverance and glory depend on God. God is my strong rock. My refuge is in God. All you people: Trust in God at all times! Pour out your hearts before the Lord! God is our refuge!"
They say, "Politics makes strange bedfellows." We've probably all been surprised from time to time when we see two people or groups who would normally be at each other's throats suddenly work together because they've found a common enemy.
"Look! I'm standing at the door and knocking. If any hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to be with them, and will have dinner with them, and they will have dinner with me."
"The LORD's voice is over the waters; the glorious God thunders; the LORD is over the mighty waters. The LORD's voice is strong; the LORD's voice is majestic."
Deuteronomy 31:8 says: "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."
Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
The memory is a dozen years old now, but vivid. I couldn't tell you what it was like outside, but I remember that room. I even remember what I was wearing. But even more clearly, I remember what my son looked like - a pudgy little nine-month old, in a hospital gown, snot dripping from his nose, coughing non-stop. He had pneumonia. It was awful. We were first time parents, trying to deal with a sickness we couldn't seem to do anything about. All day long, nurses had been in and out poking him for one reason or another ...
Lots of old expressions sneak into our lives and conversations every day. Ever heard the expression, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree"? I seem to use that expression a lot these days. It's a handy expression that means the son or the daughter is a lot like the parent. So when a child exhibits a behavior or similarity to one of the parents, I will likely say, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree."
I hope you're ready. The countdown to Christmas is quickly nearing zero. And if you've been reading these articles, you've seen what I've said about the importance of keeping the CHRIST in CHRISTmas. So today I want to discuss the most important part of being ready for a CHRISTian CHRISTmas - the receiving. You see, if you aren't ready to receive this Christmas, you will miss out on the best this holiday has to offer: true peace, true joy, true love.