A MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION

We hear tons of things in life about reconciliation, but I’m not so certain it is reaching past the hearing stage most of the time. The idea of reconciliation is to be made friends again. How difficult is it for you to restore a broken friendship and it actually become stronger after it has been fractured than it was before? Too many times we mend a broken relationship and stay somewhat friendly to each other but the real bond is never re-established. One of the primary points of the gospel of Jesus Christ is reconciliation. It begins with our being reconciled to God. We come into the world as little children whose ties with God are close. Jesus would even say that unless we are converted and become like children we can’t enter the kingdom of God. Later in blessing children, he said, “Of such is the kingdom of heaven.” But there comes a time in a child’s life when they become accountable to God, sin is marked up against them and they need to become friends with God all over again. The remarkable thing about our God and His overwhelming grace is that no matter how far we may have gone away from him and how many laws of his we may have broken he is ready to have full reconciliation with us.

When God forgives our sins, they are totally forgiven and remembered against us no more. In 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 he said, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ.” No many how many ways we break our ties with the Lord, he stands ready to forgive and restore the relationship. This is perhaps best illustrated as Jesus was on the cross, with the crowd shouting for his blood when he hadn’t done a single wrong against them, he prayed, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” It never mattered what one had done or how far they had drifted away, when they came back to the Lord, forgiveness was full and free.

But the story doesn’t end with our being reconciled to God. As vital as that point is in our life Paul’s point in 2 Corinthians 5 continued with the application of what it now means to us that we have become a new creation. He noted in verse 16 that there was a time when he judged everyone from a fleshly standpoint, But that such wasn’t the case anymore. As he continued the message in verse 18-21 he said, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

When we become God’s friend through forgiveness, it puts us in the position of one who is to be reconciled with others around us. If I think I can be in a right relationship with God while hating my fellow man then I’ve been fooled. Even in the Lord’s prayer, he said to pray “Forgive our sins as we also forgive those who sin against us.” But it reaches much further than that. In having that relationship with God, I’m given a ministry, a service that God intends for me to carry out. It is the ministry of reconciliation. As an ambassador for Christ, one of my missions in the world is to bring about reconciliation between other people and God and other people with each other. The whole concept is built on the foundation that God made Christ, who was without sin, to be sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in him. Sin is one thing that pervades all of humanity. John said if a person said they didn’t sin they were only fooling themselves and that in the process they made God a liar.

When people are reconciled with God, there ought to be a natural result that we are then drawn into a closer relationship with every other person, without regard to race, color, background or political standing. When I refuse the close ties of love and friendship with another person, I am at the same time pushing myself away from the Lord. In Ephesians 2 after talking about how his overwhelming grace has made it possible for those who are dead in sin to be reconciled to God, he continued by making the point that now by that grace he has broken down the wall between people so that everyone can be reconciled to God in one body by the cross. He said Christ had slain the enmity by dying on the cross.

We live in a fractured world where people accept or reject, love or hate, help or kill based on where someone is from, what color their skin may be or what religion they profess. If we are waiting for some political party or some movement to solve the problem we are waiting in vain. God is the answer and his people are intended to be the ones who are his ambassadors to carry the message, to be the ministers of change and reconciliation in the world. Far too often rather than being ambassadors for such reconciliation we stand as the example of folks that can’t get along with each other much less the people around us. God help us.

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YOUR HANDS IN GOD’S HANDS

God is all powerful and nothing is impossible with him. Think of the times when God would make a promise to someone and they would struggle with doubt. When God told Abraham and Sarah when he was right at 100 years old and she was right at 90 that they would have a son whom they were to name laughter,(which is what Isaac, means). She couldn’t believe it and Abraham questioned it. God’s answer was, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” On two occasions he asked Isaiah when he was struggling with doubt over some promise of God, “Is the hand of God too short to save or his ear too heavy to hear?” When Gabriel told Mary she would have a son and call his name Immanuel meaning God with us, she couldn’t understand how it could be since she hadn’t ever had sex with anyone. But God’s power is unlimited.

Yet what stands out about God’s power is how often he works through our hands to accomplish His mighty deeds. He could easily have performed every one of the ten signs performed in Egypt to convince Pharaoh to let Israel go. But over and over again it involved Moses and the rod in his hand. Even when the Israelites stood on the banks of the Red Sea and the Egyptian army was fast approaching from behind, the people were trembling in fear, God’s answer was for Moses to stretch out his hand with the rod he held over the Red Sea and the waters separated so the Israelites could cross on dry land.

In our present time, God could easily shout the message of salvation down from heaven to all humanity for them to hear in their own language how he loves them and that Jesus died on the cross so their sins can be forgiven, that he was raised from the dead in power and now reigns as king on David’s throne as the one who has all authority on heaven and in earth. But God’s choice was very different from that. He chose to have Jesus choose twelve ordinary men, men with weaknesses, flaws, problems, and failures, to train them to become his ambassadors into the world to make disciples of all the nations. They were able to preach the gospel to the entire known world in one generation. People said of them that they were “turning the world upside down.” How could they do such a thing? Because God hands are constantly working through our hands to accomplish the work he has given us to do.

I often think of the disciples gathered with Jesus as it is described in Acts 1 when he had spent the time between his resurrection and the ascension back to the Father telling them about the kingdom and that they were to wait in Jerusalem until they received power from on high when the Holy Spirit would come upon them. They asked if this was the time when he would restore the kingdom to Israel and he said it wasn’t for them to know of the times and seasons. But listen closely to what he told them of what they were to do when he ascended to the Father and the Holy Spirit was sent to be with them and with all who become followers of Jesus in the time following. “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth.” One intriguing point to remember is that the word translated “witness” and the word for “martyr” are the same.

Notice, he laid out for them a plan. Start where you are then spread out to the area around you, then reach out to the people with whom you have some similarity but you must plan and work from the start to share the message with everyone, everywhere, during every time. Obviously, he was speaking to the apostles there but his message, like that of the great commission, was one for every person who becomes a follower of Christ for all the ages. When Jesus sends us out on our mission to the world, he never sends us alone. In the great commission, his promise was, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” In telling them about the plan of action they were to wait for the Holy Spirit to come to be with them forever.

From creation itself, God has been moving through our hands to accomplish his work. He made man and woman and put them in charge of the creation. Adam was to dress and keep the garden. All things David said were put under his feet. God’s longing today for people everywhere is for them to hear the good news of Jesus and come to know him as Savior and Lord, to turn from their sinful ways to live for him and be baptized into Christ, into his body to become a part of his mission and plans for the universe.

Far too often those who have made a commitment to Christ are waiting for someone else to do the job, to be the witness, to share the message that God is calling on them to carry out. When our hands are yielded to God’s use and no holding back it is amazing what God can accomplish through us. When our mouth or ears or money or things are totally laid at the altar of God with the readiness for Him to use us and own us as part of his body, there will be no limits to what God’s people can accomplish for Him in the world. But it must start with readily offering ourselves on the altar of God, giving our bodies as a living sacrifice to him. Then, see where God leads and what He does through you.

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GETTING INTO GOD’S STORY

I enjoy devotional books where some small segment of Scripture is given and some thoughts about it often followed by a story and application. I think they are worthwhile. I also enjoy searching Scripture to find answers to questions that are concerning me. It is worthwhile for me to look at God’s word in times of stress and trouble in life and see that God has answers to our emotional and spiritual problems that haunt us day by day. Let’s face it the world is filled with people struggling with stress, grief, depression, frustration, anger, disappointment and discouragement that just gets them so far down they don’t know where to turn. All of these methods of searching the Bible for answers are worth something valuable and have a definite place in our study of God’s word.

But, none of these type studies should take the place of reading God’s word to simply understand the story of His word, to see how God’s plan has been at work from the beginning and to see where we fit into the whole message of God’s Book. I understand that one can read the Bible from cover to cover many times and never really understand how it all fits together. It is helpful to remember some basic truths in reading Scripture that will help me both in understanding and applying its truths to my life. The Bible is far from a single book written in chronological order so that if I begin in Genesis and read through to Revelation everything will be part of the story in the right place for me to see. The Bible is grouped together based on the kind of literature that is involved. In Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy we have the books of the law that tell of God’s creation of the universe, the plan for mankind and the wonderful opportunity for them in the Garden of Eden. But sin entered the world and was devastating in its effect. Murder, mistreatment, every thought of their imagination became evil. Yet God had a plan to redeem humanity and bring them back to a saved relationship with Him. He chose Abraham and his descendants to be a special nation and ones through whom He would send a savior to lead people from darkness to light. These five books develop that story with the giving of the law, building the tabernacle and preparing the Israelites to enter the promised land as God’s people.

From Joshua through Esther is the story of what happened to the Israelites after they crossed into the promised land. It tells of prosperity, of falling away, of redemption through different judges until they wanted a king like the nations around them. Saul, David, and Solomon all reigned over the empire. But sin brought the division of the tribes. Ten tribes became known as Israel and two tribes as Judah. In time sin led to the fall of the ten tribes through the Assyrian captivity. Then a couple of hundred years later the two tribes were conquered by Babylon and remained in captivity for seventy years. Afterward, God delivered them by having the Medo-Persian Empire conquer Babylon and allow Judah to go back and rebuild Jerusalem, the temple and the walls of the city. Esther tells of one Jewish girl becoming queen in Persia for a time and saving her people. The history of the Old Testament ends at that point. It is followed by five books of poetry, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. They largely related to the period of the United Kingdom, except for Job that likely took place during the time of Genesis.

These books are followed by the Books of Prophesy from Isaiah through Malachi and the first five are called Major prophets because they are longer and the other twelve as minor because they were shorter. They all had to do with different times and problems that related to Israel and Judah before, during and after the captivity.

There was a four hundred year break between the Old and New Testament. The New Testament, like the Old isn’t in chronological order. The first four books are called gospels because the tell the story from different angles of Jesus life on this earth. The Book of Acts is the history book of the New Testament telling how the Holy Spirit led the work of Christ through his spiritual body, the church after Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. Many of the letters, especially those written by Paul were written during the story of the Book of Acts and deal with churches and problems they faced. His letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon were written later after the completion of Acts. The General letters each dealt with very specific challenges facing churches and individuals as they strived to live for God. Finally, the Book of Revelation dealt in very figurative language with challenges facing the seven churches of Asia and answers God wanted them to see about their future when it seemed that persecution and problems were overwhelming them. It is extremely fitting that both the first chapters of the Bible and the last chapters of the Bible deal with people in the Garden of God, with God, Christ and The Spirit in our presence and the tree life and river of life available for all.

God’s word is an amazing story but needs to be read and seen as a whole story rather than just bits and pieces that I turn to when I am dealing with particular challenges or issues. “All Scripture is inspired of God and profitable for teaching, for correction, for reproof and for rebuke so the man of God may be perfect, completely furnished unto every good work.”

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THE STRANGEST JUDGMENTS

Making judgments in different circumstances is as common as breathing. We may see just a snippet of conflict between a couple and immediately decide whose fault it was and why they acted as they did.

But of all judgments, I think I’ve ever seen or even heard of the judgment of Jesus by the religious leaders of his day reaches the greatest heights of absurdity. Jesus was going about doing all kinds of good things. When a group of four friends brought a man who was extremely handicapped, lying on his cot to try to get him to Jesus so he could be healed, the crowd around the door was so great they couldn’t get the man into where Jesus was. In their determination, they took him up on the roof of the house, dug away a section of the roof and let the man down right in front of Jesus. Jesus was so impressed with their faith that he turned to the man and said, “Your sins are forgiven.” Immediately some of the religious leaders began to complain and declare that Jesus was blaspheming since no one but God could forgive sins. He realized their thoughts and said, “Which is easier to say, ‘your sins are forgiven’ or to say, ‘rise, take up your mat and walk’ but that you may know the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins, I say, ‘Rise, take up your mat and walk.” Immediately the man was healed and got up to pick up his mat and go home.

It is easy to see the hypocrisy of these religious leaders, but what would you have said if you had been there? That is a tough question since they didn’t recognize Jesus as God in the flesh it was a rather normal judgment to make.

But it became much more severe. When Jesus met people who had been afflicted with all kinds of diseases and problems brought on by demon possession he cast out the demons and the result was deaf were able to hear, mute could speak, a lady who hadn’t been able to straighten up for a long time was able to stand up straight, blind could see, lepers were cleansed and even those whose whole minds had been tormented to the degree they became either dangerous to themselves or others. People generally were amazed and declared they had never seen anything like this before, not even in Israel. But the religious leaders had a very different reaction. Instead of being touched by the many hurting people being healed, they needed some way to make it look bad for Jesus. Their answer was to tell everyone who would listen that Jesus was casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul the prince of demons. Of all the absurd answers anyone could come up with for how Jesus could cast out demons and heal people of all kinds of illnesses, this seems to be out of this world. One of the main excuses they offered was that he often healed people or cast out the demons on the Sabbath Day and that was working and violating the Sabbath. He explained he was Lord of the Sabbath and that the Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath, but it didn’t get through their build up of prejudice.

As with most such crazy accusations, Jesus’ answers made the whole notion seem as foolish as it really was. He pointed to the reality that a house divided against itself cannot stand. If Satan is casting out his own demons, then how will his kingdom stand? He went on to point out the grave danger they were in by making such ridiculous judgments. He said that all manner of sin and blasphemy would be forgiven by God but if one blasphemes the Holy Spirit, through whom Jesus was casting out the demons, would not be forgiven, not in this age or the one to come. While all sins are bad, some are much worse than others and some can so harden our hearts that any opportunity for change or forgiveness is life behind.

But, here is the point I want to think about. What is it about us that would lead to our making the very worst judgments imaginable about people or events instead of looking at whatever it is with a more generous spirit? I don’t think these religious leaders were bad people. They had devoted their lives to God and were regarded as the most righteous people of their day. Yet, Jesus and his actions just didn’t fit into their belief system. He wasn’t at all what they had expected and prayed for as the Messiah who would deliver Israel. They had built into their thinking a complete mindset of what the Messiah would be like. He would be a mighty military leader who would lead Israel in the battle against Rome and deliver them from bondage.

Instead, Jesus came as one that grows up in the home of a poor carpenter in Nazareth and when he began his ministry it was by choosing ordinary men as his apostles. He associated with sinners, the weak and hurting and his lessons actually taught more about heart and character and loving God and neighbor as the greatest commands. He served, fed the hungry and would even wash the feet of his own disciples. He was ready to both forgive and accept as disciples those who had lived very immoral lives and even those who were Samaritans or Gentiles. He upset their whole apple cart. Let’s face it when our minds are set that we are right and anything or anyone that differs from us is automatically wrong, we will go to strange links to defy every good thing they do. The ultimate result was they would reject and lead the way in the crucifixion of the Son of God.

We all make judgments. It is part of human nature. But every judgment should be looked at through the life, the heart and the compassion of Jesus and it will deeply affect the way we judge both our own actions and those of others. By the way, never forget we are judged, both by God and other people based on the way we judge others.

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IS YOUR HEART IN IT?

Many years ago I was watching the Olympics and for some reason had gotten interested in the Pole Vaulting contest. It’s been long enough ago that I don’t remember the man’s name who won and received the gold medal. He was from the United States and the thing that I never forgot was when a journalist was interviewing him. He had broken a world record at the time and the man asked him how he did it, which I thought at the time was a rather naive question. But the answer was brilliant and returns to my thoughts often. He looked at the reporter and said, very earnestly, “I just throw my heart over the bar first and the rest of me seems to follow naturally.”

I quickly grabbed a pen and wrote down the answer he had given and then put it in places where I would see it often. He was still a young man at the point when he made the statement but wherever the thought may have originated, whether with a parent, a coach or out of his own mind, he laid out a principle that day that is worth thinking about in all kinds of situations.

Let’s face it, we see people every day on jobs, in family life and in church or spiritual life who seem to be just muddling their way through it. They do the things that they have to do, but it is so obvious their heart isn’t in it that they might as well be wearing a sign. I understand why employers often keep people who don’t enjoy the job and who seem to walk through each day with their mind and heart somewhere else or even worse when it just seems to be missing in action. So often they just don’t know where to find anyone that will be different. They have resigned themselves to paying workers who don’t care and are interested in learning more but will walk through the motions and get the job done.

You see the same thing with married couples and parents. I am excited with I see a couple who are married and it is obvious they have thrown their hearts into it and the rest has followed easily. They are devoted to each other, love being with each other, compliment each other and can’t wait for the end of the day to come so they can be together again. I just wish this kind of devotion and love in marriage was contagious. It almost seems that someone came up with a vaccine to keep it from spreading. Seeing the other kind of marriage where they are together, sort of, but seem to be as excited about being together as I would be about watching a wrestling match (by the way I would walk a mile to keep from having to be where one was being seen). You wonder if they ever had their heart in it or was it just some arrangement or pretense from the beginning. If you want to get the life either back into your marriage or there for the first time, throw your heart into it and it will show to everyone around, especially your mate. I suspect if you ever put your heart into it, you may be shocked to find they are ready to throw theirs in as well.

Sadly, you see the same thing at church, in service and devotion to God. So many want to be religious so they come to church at least some of the time, but far too often their heart has been left somewhere else or is just missing altogether. Such churches and individuals may look good and have all the appearances of life. Read Revelation 3 in the story of Laodicea as one of the churches Jesus wrote to. They looked at themselves and declared “We are rich, have plenty of goods and don’t need a thing.” Jesus looked at them and said, “You are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.” He called them “Lukewarm, and neither cold or hot.” He said, I’d rather you be cold or hot but because you are lukewarm I will vomit you out of my mouth. What was wrong with this church that thought they were so good but was so far from what God wanted. They needed to put on white clothes to hide their nakedness, to put on eye salve from God to be able to see and to buy gold from him that had been tried in the fire. But the real answer came when he pictured himself standing at the door and knocking, trying to get in, but being kept on the outside.

Form, ritual, playing the game, going through the motions are all part of life. But, if your heart isn’t in it, you aren’t in it. That is true whether it’s your job, your marriage, you as a parent or your Christianity.

How can I know if my heart is really in it? First, I think most of us already know, it’s just a matter of admitting it and deciding to change. When Paul said, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” he left no doubt that his heart was totally in it. In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul was talking to the church in Corinth about giving to help the poor Christians over in Jerusalem. In doing so he told of the churches of Macedonia who were in deep poverty, but who had sent a very liberal gift to help with the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. The words Paul uses demonstrate the ones doing the giving were in far worse shape financially than the ones they were giving to help. Why would they do that? Paul said they begged him to accept their gift and gave far more than they were actually able to give. But why would they do such a thing? His answer lies at the heart of this whole article. “Because they had first given themselves to the Lord.” When my heart is in anything, my money, interest, energy, and commitment follow. When my heart isn’t in it, I can find every excuse in the world not to give, not to share, not to be there for those who need me and just go on living a shell game wondering why nothing seems to matter much any more.

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MAKING CLAIMS AND PROMISES

This is a great time in life to have a huge sense of humor. I think if I ever had a desire to be a comedian then today would be the time I wanted to jump into it. The claims and promises that are being made every day by either politicians or someone on Social Media with a new product that will solve every problem from in-grown toenails to baldness are constant. I do wish it was just a thing of hucksters running for something or of someone trying to get rich by promoting some crazy product to cure all your ills. One thing that does stand out with most of the claims, the cures aren’t ones you can actually see. I am big time amused when I see the person advertising some weight loss product and shows a picture of him weighing 400 pounds and now he is thrilled to show off the fact he only weighs 350 now. But there are some that don’t make me laugh at all. Instead, there are times when I feel like crying after I hear a claim being made. These claims are usually coming from someone claiming to be preaching the gospel of Jesus and shouting loudly when there isn’t anything really worth saying. Most of the time the claims run along the line if you will just send the preacher or his show a good sized check that God is going to bless you with all kinds of good things. It used to be the case that if you gave they would send you some kind of handkerchief or such that had been prayed over or anointed with oil and it would bring healing to whatever ails you. All you had to do was send a gift of at least $50.00 or so and they would send you this free gift that would solve your problems.

Now it has become much more arrogant. Now it is, send the gift and you will get a raise, a better job or even a new car or new house. Instead of health the claims now seem to be more around wealth. And there are some very good reasons for it. When you check to see how these preachers are living it is certain they have become extremely wealthy from the gifts. I’m not at all certain that the people sending them have been benefitted at all, but it is certain the preacher living in mansions, drivings the best cars and even asking for money to purchase a new jet that God revealed to them they really needed. By the way, if you make a gift of just $100.00 they will send you a gift of a $3.00 book the preacher has written that will bless your life.

Can you in your wildest imagination, ever picture Jesus or any of his apostles doing this kind of thing? Jesus lived so close to poverty that when a man told him he would follow him wherever he went, Jesus said, “Foxes have holes and birds have nest, but the Son of man doesn’t have a place to lay his head.” When the apostle Paul went all over the countryside preaching Jesus, it was rare for him to receive any gift of support from a church. His claim was that he worked with his own hands to provide for his needs and to give them an example of how to live.

I do remember a rich man coming to Jesus on one occasion asking what he had to do to have eternal life. Jesus first told him to keep the commandments. The man asked which ones and Jesus gave him a list that included things like not committing murder, adultery or coveting. He told him to honor his father and mother and to love his neighbor as himself. Audaciously the man answered he had kept those from his youth up. Jesus told him he still lacked one thing. Listen closely to what the one thing was. The wording and challenges are important. “Go sell all you have and GIVE IT TO THE POOR then come and follow me.” I wonder what the man was expecting. He may well have thought Jesus would tell him that if he would begin supporting his ministry on a regular basis he would have a special place among them and they would even put his name on the letterhead as one of the best donors. I suspect it was a total shock when Jesus told him, to go and sell everything and give it to the poor, then come follow him. Jesus didn’t even offer to help him pick out which poor people to help. He didn’t point to a particular benevolent work he had a special interest in. He simply told him to give his money away and share it with poor people and then he could become one of his followers.

But, what did Jesus offer the man if he really followed through on it? Discipleship, the very same offer he made to every other person who would turn from their old way of life to follow him. Think about this, Jesus’ most common command to people was “Follow me.” Should we tell others to follow us? Maybe, if we can do so as the apostle Paul did. “Follow me as I also follow Christ.”

You see, inspite of all the claims and promises in this world, the vast majority of which will never come to pass, there is only one person we really need to follow in everything. He came into the world because God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son so that those who believe in him might have everlasting life. He came to show us what the Father is really like. He came as Savior and Lord. Peter said he left us an example that we should follow in his steps.

When I hear people talk about following some preacher or imitating some church, even if it is a church in the New Testament, I cringe. No man and no church ever got it all right. Jesus is the perfect pattern. Follow him. Make disciples of Jesus. The closer we become to him the more we will be all God calls any of us to be and his work and plan in the world will be fulfilled through us.

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THE ONLY ONE

I Like choices. I think one of the reasons I like to get on places like Amazon to look for something that I think I need is that you will be able to see 8,000,000 choices for you to look at and decide which is the best for you. I certainly remember times when I would go into a store and asked for some product that would accomplish some project I was trying to do and get an answer that went something like, “Well, there is really only one product in the world that will accomplish that purpose and we don’t have it in stock. We can order it for you but it generally takes a month or so for us to get one in.” Thank the Lord that day is past and now you can get on the internet, look up what kind of tools you need to a job, go to you-Tube and see someone do it step by step warning you of every mistake that you might make and tell you exactly what you need to get the job done. What an amazing time!

But, there are still things in life where there is just one right choice and if you try to go some other way you will go far afield in what you wish to accomplish and likely look back with deep regret for the massive mistake you made in your life. We live in a day where there is a different form of religion and different hero or person claiming to be the Messiah or Savior for man everywhere you look. It might be tempting for people to go searching through all the different offers and look for someone other than Jesus that could really bring us joy, fulfillment, love, and redemption. But there are things in life for which there are only false choices and to go in that direction is to make a tragic mistake in your life and leave behind the very one that could have changed everything in your life for the better way. When you follow him it will never lead to a desire to destroy your enemies, kill those who differ from you and become terrorist in the world.

In Colossians 1:28-29 Paul was concluding a great chapter on the greatness of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, the one in whom we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins. Then he said, “He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end, I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so Powerfully works in me.” There were plenty of people in Paul’s day he could have preached to the people. The whole world seemed to be turning to Caesar and referring to him as “Lord, God Caesar.” He had certainly shown all the military might of the day and conquered his enemies. Jesus on the other had been crucified by the Roman authorities on a cross outside Jerusalem. Yet the power of Caesar was meager compared to Jesus. Jesus was the one who had brought the whole world into being. Without him, nothing was made that was made. In him dwelt all the fullness of deity in bodily form (Colossians 2:9). He not only was creator, but he also holds up or sustains everything by the word of his power. Peter declared in Acts 4:12, “Neither is there salvation in any other for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which you must be saved.”

Finding a substitute Savior who can truly take away the sins of the world and offer us new life in him is a useless endeavor. He is the only Lord and only Savior of the world who paid the price for our sins on the cross and then was raised from the dead with power over death, hell and the grave. He was raised up from this life to ascend back to the Father where he would begin to reign on David’s throne at the right hand of God. He ever lives to make intercession for us. You’ve never even heard of sin so big or bad that Jesus can’t forgive it and take it completely away to give us not only forgiveness in him but the fullness of life in him.

No wonder Paul shouted to he Colossian Christians, “He is the one we proclaim.” He is the only one worth proclaiming to the world. He is the only one with the answers to the world’s problems that can change everything to the good. Notice that tied closely to proclaiming Jesus was admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.”

Wouldn’t it be great to see people all around us grow up and become mature in their faith and commitment to God? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we lived in a way that people could actually see the good effect Jesus was having in our lives every day.?

Listen, I know we need to talk about things like having wonderful homes and bringing up godly children for the Lord. I know we need lessons on having a great church that makes a huge difference for good in the world. We need to talk about the end of life and eternity. But we need to talk most about Jesus Christ and his developing in us what He longs for us to be. The more we look like Him and the more our focus is on him the more will be drawn to know and follow him.

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