Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Paul will go on to talk about suffering in the next few chapters so he is not talking about a peace here that is necessarily without pain. So, what does it mean to have “peace with God?” It means that God takes on the role of Father for us rather than simply judge. On this Father’s Day weekend, we might remember the way our fathers, when they were at their best, made us feel cared for and secure. God exceeds the goodness of even the best of fathers at their best. Perhaps there were times our Dads had to discipline. Perhaps in our adolescence we even thought of them occasionally antagonistically. But now, as adults, we understand and appreciate who they truly are and all they went and go through on our behalf. Turns out we were on the same side all along! So it is with God. Since in Jesus, God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves, we are on the same side, play on the same team. Not always a walk in the park, but a walk with God by our side. How has your relationship with your father taught you about God the Father?
Romans 8:17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Paul has been writing here about the ways the Holy Spirit works in the lives of believers- fitting for Pentecost. But, as the old song goes, I never promised you a rose garden. Suffering may be involved. We often wish we could protect our children from the pains and disappointments of life but that is not the way it works and sometimes they are better people for having dealt with these pains and disappointments. Maybe what lies un-articulated between the lines here is that the Holy Spirit can give us courage. If there is suffering to be faced, the Holy Spirit can give us the courage to face it, not without struggle but with purpose and resolve. Maybe. I guess I hope so, at least. How do you share in his sufferings in order to share in his glory?
Acts 1:3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
Luke begins his gospel saying, “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word” (Luke 1:1, 2). What we call the Acts of the Apostles, or simply Acts, is volume two of Luke’s story of Jesus and the early church. Together they are more than one quarter of the entire New Testament. Now, Luke was not a modern scholar much less a post-modern scholar. He was a man of his times, whatever that might mean, and wrote in a way that would connect with a first century reader. He didn’t claim to be an eyewitness to the events he was recording (except for a section of Acts perhaps) but he certainly seems to know that some of the information circulating was reliable while some was not and he claims to be about setting the record straight. He may not have been writing history in our current way of writing biographies, but he wasn’t writing a novel either. We can’t do an experiment to prove or disprove what he says about Jesus and the disciples. We can see that he was sharing events that changed the lives of many people he knew personally, and which, coincidentally, changed the world. What do you think he considered as “convincing proofs?” When it comes to God, what do you consider convincing proof?
I Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
On the Sunday before Memorial Day for the past several years our congregation participates with three others in what we call the Community Freedom Celebration. It is an outdoor worship service followed picnic food and games. We honor a few folks from the community for their service. In years past it has been police, first responders, etc. This year we honored three coaches from the high schools for their work with young athletes. Of course, that reminded me of Paul’s words above. Top class athletes have coaches and team trainers and personal trainers and sports psychologists. Those of us who are endeavoring to follow Christ have the Bible and preachers and books and videos and podcasts. And we have each other. The author of Ecclesiastes noted, “The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong” (9:11). I guess part of the issue is just knowing if we are running the right race, that is, doing what Christ is calling us to do in our time and place. On Memorial Day we remember those who ran their race with dedication and honor to their finish line. As we remember them, may God give us the grace to do the same.
2 Samuel 11:1 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.
I’ve been reading a novel based on the life of David and this inspired me to revisit some of the Biblical accounts of his life. The above verse is the beginning of the account of his deadly and destructive sexual encounter with Bathsheba which all begins with his decision to not attend to his role as leader of the military in the way he normally did. Memorial Day is next Monday and we will remember and respect those whose devotion to duty cost them their lives. There is more to life than devotion to duty. There is mercy and generosity and compassion to name just a few. But, like David in this story, it is often when we deviate from our devotion to duty, that is, when we neglect to do what we know we should do, that inappropriate and unfaithful and harmful things will rush in to fill the vacuum left there. Being about the daily stuff of a faithful life, faithful to family and community and God, is often not glamorous or exciting, but in the long run yields more love, joy and peace than the alternatives. What are the tasks of faithfulness to which you are called this week?
John 10:27 My sheep hear My voice; 10:30 I and the Father are one.
In English the word acoustic has to do with sound. If a room has good acoustics it means you can hear particularly well in that space. Usually this has to do with live music and your ability to enjoy it. The word for “hear” in verse 27 above in the original Greek is that very word from which we get acoustic. It is also the same word found in one of the great Old Testament statements of Israel’s faith, Deuteronomy 6:4- “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” You might have noticed that in verse 30 above Jesus says that he and the Father are one. Could this be John’s way of connecting Jesus with Deuteronomy in the same way he began his gospel “In the beginning was the word,” a clear reference to Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created.” Every book in the Bible is different and reflects the author and the author’s time and the author’s style. But verses like these indicate that the authors also saw what they wrote as part of one, larger story; the story of God and his love for humanity. This week, how will you connect with the larger story of God?
John 21:18 “Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
This is Jesus speaking to Peter. Remember when you were a kid and you hated that everyone else got to tell you what you had to do and where you had to go and when you had to be there and you couldn’t wait to grow up so you do what you wanted? And then you grew up and between work and family and other obligations you still rarely got to choose your schedule. Jesus was letting Peter know that following him was going to send him places he would not ordinarily have chosen through people he wouldn’t normally befriend. And yet the implication is that this will all be better in the end than going the way of his own choosing. Our lives find meaning not in getting our own way but in giving ourselves away as Christ gave himself in life and death. Sometimes this means being led where we do not want to go to find the way to a new quality of life in Christ. This week, where are you being led?