This letter needs no explanation. So thankful that she sent it to me.
People from my religious tradition are very weary to believe that ‘nothing can separate us from the love of God’. Even though we know that scripture is in the Bible and we recite the fact that we are not saved by our works, we are reluctant to freely jump into the waters of ‘no matter what you do, Jesus still loves you’.
I believe we are afraid (and I have heard it taught) that if people believe that concept, they will begin to sin wildly because there are no consequences to the action. If we believe that we will start sinning because there are no consequences to the sin, then we are identifying our wrong motivation for good works. We are acting virtuous because we are either fearful of the consequences of not doing it or we are prideful and enjoy the credit we get for good works. Both Pride and Fear are motivating factors and can be used to achieve the desired goal. However, both have a very short shelf life. We forget the consequence and find ourselves delving into the wrong activity.
Jonathan Edwards said this about ‘true virtue’:
What is true virtue? It is when you are honest not because it profits you or makes you feel better, but because you are smitten with the beauty of the God who is all truth and sincerity and faithfulness…True virtue comes when you see Christ dying for you, keeping a promise He made despite the infinite suffering it brought him. On the one hand that destroys pride: he had to do this for us, because we were so lost. On the other hand it also destroys fear: because if he’d do this for us while we were his enemies, then he values us infinitely, and nothing we can do will wear out his love. Consequently, our hearts are not just restrained but changed. Their fundamental orientation is transformed.
We want our hearts changed. We do not want to continue to pursue good works because it is the avenue to a right relationship with God. Jesus said we would be identified by our fruit. Fruit is most definitely the final product of the plant. The outward sign or ‘works’ of the plant. We want the same for ourselves. Our good works should be the final product generated from a deep devotion and love of God. If we put the works in front of the relationship as if they earn us the right to know God, then we are putting the cart before the horse.
In Luke 1, the angel of the Lord proposes to Mary. Will you birth the savior of the world? Mary answers, “Be it unto me according to your word, oh Lord.” The NLT says, “Let everything happen to me just as you have said.”
Only time would tell just what that meant. ’Let everything happen to me’
Many of us have responded in the exact same way. “Yes, Lord, I will follow you. Please use me for your purpose.” With this agreement, we release persecution upon our life that would not be there if we would have said, “No, Lord, I won’t follow you.”
Mary faced the physical pains of the natural birthing process. She also unleashed the wrath of a society that believed she was in sin for conceiving a baby out of wedlock. After this waned, she faced the struggle of her adult son traveling the region preaching, teaching with no home and no means of survival. He eventually is tortured and sacrificed on the cross in front of her face. Her own son.
“Be it unto me” threw heavy punches to the young nazarite virgin.
Many of us have been impregnated with the purpose of God and He is wanting us to give birth to ministry that will further his Kingdom. As we carry that ministry to term and then live with it in adulthood, it takes a toll. We look for solutions to deal with the wounds and the pressure. Since Mary’s solution was her baby (Jesus), we are tempted to think that our solution is our baby (our ministry). Therefore, when struggle comes, we work harder. We try to catch people that leave us. We think one more service, one more sermon, one more encouraging word and one more conversion will help our hurt. When this happens we continue to dig ourselves into a hole that we can never get out of. If we are looking to ministry to heal our hurt, then we will always hurt.
The mission field is inexhaustible. There is always one more Sunday to plan for. There is always one more sinner to save. We chase joy forever, if we think it is found in the grasp of our ministry.
We do not find our hope in the birth of our ministry or our work. We find our hope in Mary’s baby. Jesus was born once and it was enough for eternity.
Personal connection with Jesus is the only way we will find healing for our ministry wounds. We will continue to chase after sinners, hunt down demons, plan weekends, and get really creative with technique. However, we will stop the rat race of thinking that heals us.
Jesus, you are our source. You are our source for help and healing.
This letter needs no explanation. So thankful that she sent it to me.
Xmas has been used for hundreds of years in religious writing, where the X represents a Greek chi, the first letter of Χριστος, “Christ.” In this use it is parallel to other forms like Xtian, “Christian.” But people unaware of the Greek origin of this X often mistakenly interpret Xmas as an informal shortening pronounced (ĕks’məs). Many therefore frown upon the term Xmas because it seems to them a commercial convenience that omits Christ from Christmas.
Straight from answers.com
Today, we give thanks for the local church. Scripture compares the church to a body and tonight is attempt to bring that body together. We strive for unity. Not a bunch of churches getting together, but The Church getting together. Many branches but one tree. Many parts but one purpose. We are thankful to God that he has given us this method of establishing His kingdom here on earth. The local church saves the lost, feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, visits the imprisoned, heals the sick, rebukes the devourer. Each November those that are involved in the San Marcos Ministers’ Association gather as sort of a heaven practice. All gathered in one place, at one time, in one mind to worship and give thanks to our creator and Savior.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for providing this vehicle called the local church. Where strangers become family and broken are mended. Thank you for the spiritual community of San Marcos, TX. Lord, we are grateful that you have placed us in this place at this time for this moment of your kingdom. We pray that we will take the rightful responsibility as your church and not squander our resources and talents, but we will rise to the great calling you have placed on us. To be the Salt of San Marcos. To be the light of the world. A city on a hill that cannot be hidden. May your light permeate from your church to the darkest parts of this community. Endue us with power from your Holy Spirit to build your kingdom, we pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen!
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