Tag Archives: restoration

How to Love Thy Neighbor….

Discipline is hard for parents and for children but this keeps both accountable and keeps the family living peacefully with one another. Paul has been acting as the parent to these precious Galatian babes in Christ who are dividing the gal 5 and 6 love neighborf2Galatian church by their childish actions of snapping and arguing and had fallen for the bait of the “Thou Shalt be Circumcised and Obey the Mosaic Law” legalists. Paul asks those who had had not swallowed their bait to take on a mighty task of restoring gently those who were the back biters, devourers and provokers so that the church is once again united in Christ.

However, before they or anyone takes on this task there is are two steps that must be adhered to: “First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” And secondly, be living by the law of Christ which means living out the character of Christ step by step. Both of these require self-examination so as not to be self-deceived and quench and grieve the Holy Spirit. The only thing that mattered was: faith working through love and demonstrating that one is a new creation in Christ. This is how you love your neighbor as yourself.

Are we mature enough in the Lord to do this? This can only happen by immersing oneself in the Word, meditating upon it so you can discern truth from error. Only then can one bear the burdens another carries.

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John 21 “Full Restoration…”

ImageHave you ever kept yourself busy so you don’t have to think? You find busy activities to occupy your mind so that your wayward actions do not creep in and occupy your thoughts. This is the tool of the enemy so that you are hindered from service but the Master comes to us that we may learn that although we may err, the truth is clear and undeniable: Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. [Rom 8:34]

We resonate with Peter because like him we too are impulsive, overreacting, deniers of Christ, bitterly repentant yet not fully restored. Does this describe you? The evil one, Satan, would have you rehearse, repent, rehearse, repent on and on but the Master comes in our busyness that we may be fully once and for all know that not only are our sins forgiven but know the truth of Psa 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. That is what the Master has come to do in John 21 and through the eyes of John we not only experience this for the sake of Peter but for the sake of us in the 21st century.

Jesus had told Peter, “”Simon, Simon, behold, Satanhas demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” And now Jesus will help Peter see the fulfillment of those words and as we begin the letters he wrote later we too will be strengthened and learn. But, first Jesus will test our love quotient:

“Do you love me more than these?” Jesus asked about agape love (all giving, unselfish love) to which Peter replied, I love you (using phileo—friend love). If you say yes, my task for you is to tend my lambs; the wee ones who need nurturing. Be willing to serve the newly saved, the babies of the faith.

A second time Jesus asked Peter: “Do you love Me?” and when Peter affirms, Jesus says: “Shepherd my sheep.” Be the shepherd that I was, tenderly teaching, loving, guiding, warning, and holding them to your side, be willing to die for them.

A third time Jesus asked: “Do you love Me?” As Peter heard this same question his soul was grieved but Jesus will not let Peter remain there for Jesus seeks total restoration and a renewed focus. Affirming his love, Jesus tenderly says “Tend my sheep.” Sheep are those who tend to wander and Peter could relate. Sheep need feeding, watering, watching, protecting. That is what it means to tend these who seek to find the greener grass. Hold them close Peter. Use your crook to draw them back.

Jesus was challenging Peter and he is challenging you and me: Do we love Jesus more than life itself? If our answer is yes as Simon Peter’s was; He has a task for us: “God who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation. “ [2Co 5:18] Go forth Beloved, and tend the lambs, shepherd the sheep, tend the sheep. It is a full time occupation—for the fully and completely restored. How great is your love?

Photo: Courtesy of SpiritFM

Dreaming…

Jn 5; Ps 126-128 “Dreaming…”

ImageThe invalid of John 5 must have thought he was dreaming as he obediently picked up his mat and walked to the Temple. How could this be? Who healed me? Entering the Temple full of awe and surprise whom does he meet but the ‘religious police’ of his day; the Pharisees. Upon hearing of his healing they did not stop to celebrate with him but rather began to question him. Who would tell you to do this “on the Sabbath?” Caught off guard by this barrage, we wonder what his thoughts were; why the Pharisees would not stop to give praise to God for this marvelous healing. Answering as best he could he continues on. It is then that as he walked to worship with his mind filled with thoughts, questions and wonderment that John tells us that the healer appears from out of nowhere. There is only one statement to the man and no return dialog. In vs 15 the man reveals to the Pharisees that it was indeed Jesus. Why did he go back to the Pharisees, these religious naysayers? Could it be that the truth of Prov 29:25 fit in here? 29:25 “The fear of people becomes a snare”? We may never know.

Yes truly the man seemed to be in a fog, so unable to understand what has just transpired. So too, the early Israelites after being freed by Cyrus command from the Babylonian captivity, find themselves in much this same frame of mind, filled with awe, filled with surprise, filled with wonder as they return to Jerusalem. Ps 126:1 “When the Lord restored the well-being of Zion, we thought we were dreaming.” Seventy years of captivity have come and gone. We are really here even though we thought this could not happen in our lifetime! We are in the midst of Jerusalem shouting for joy, laughing loudly and the naysayers are not raining on our parade but giving God praise: “The Lord has accomplished great things for these people.” What a change of heart!

The ‘religious police,’ the naysayers of Jesus’ day, will always be with us. But, also there will be others who, when they see God at work, will have to stop and give God praise. Recognizing that this could only happen because of God’s grace we too need to stop and give God praise.  The psalmist in these three psalms gives wise principles. It is truly a choice on our part. We can choose to return to the naysayers or we can choose to join the chorus and give God the praise!  These psalms, although written to the Jew, are as practically applicable to us today as they were then.

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  1. Give praise to God first and foremost: 126:3 The Lord did indeed accomplish great things for us.
  2. Recognize that apart from God no good thing comes to pass: 127:1 If the Lord does not build a house, then those who build it work in vain. If the Lord does not guard a city, then the watchman stands guard in vain.
  3. Fear the Lord in all holiness and reverence: 128:4 Yes indeed, the man who fears the Lord will be blessed in this way.
  4. Seek God’s blessing upon others: 128:5 May the Lord bless you from Zion, that you might see Jerusalem prosper all the days of your life,
  5. With restoration comes a responsibility to live a righteous life. Blessed with God’s provision of healing seek to abide by what Jesus told the healed invalid: “Look, you have become well. Don’t sin any more, lest anything worse happen to you.”  

Did the invalid follow these principles? We must wait until eternity to find out. In the meantime, we are left with a choice. We can follow these principles today or we can join the naysayer’s camp. What will we choose to do?