WAIT TIL YOUR FATHER GETS HOME

I’ve been in court a few times during my adult life. Mostly I’ve been a spectator. On one occasion a witness and another a potential juror. Each time the judge enters there is a feeling of almost dread. He or she is announced and we are all asked to rise. They are usually attired in a robe of authority. A sense of nervousness comes upon me and some degree of pessimism as I think of the impending judgment upon the accused.

Judge, judgment, judgment day. They all have an element of fear attached. And so it is with the Christian faith. It may be due to the experience many have had of the judgment by Christians themselves. A lot of people feel that Christ is judging them. Maybe the church has contributed to this also.

Some of us are just very self-conscious about the wrongs we have thought and done in our lives and think that maybe Jesus just isn’t all that happy with us.

And perhaps we do well to have some experience of fright at the thought of Jesus, our judge.

Bonhoeffer once wrote that without that fright we do not experience the marvelous favor and grace when we discover that we are actually loved dearly by this judge. (THE COMING OF JESUS IN OUR MIDST)

It’s only when we realize just how lost we have been that we know the joy of being found. It’s only when a dreaded diagnosis comes do we realize the joy of recovery.

Jesus once said that he had come for the sick, the lost, the lame, and the blind. So that when we enter his court knowing our condition we can rejoice in our hearts when his presence comes into our lives. What this Judge brings is Good News.

“For judgment I have come into this world so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” (Those who make the pretense of seeing) John 9.

If we think we have it all together and can pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and need no help or relationship with God then we will go off by ourselves. Otherwise the judge has nothing but love and forgiveness and an eternal relationship to give us.

See, Christ makes his greatest judgment from Calvary. His judgment seat is the cross and his verdict is guilt for death and sin that both may be defeated. He has exhausted the worst they could do to the best.

But to those who long for his appearance his verdict is INNOCENT AND FREE.

Sometimes we are like the children who hear these dreaded words ‘Wait ‘til your Father gets home’ only to discover that when dad arrives his arms are open, his love is unconditional and any guilt is borne by his own humility and grace.

And now it is given to us to go into the world with Jesus looking for the lost and blind and self-conscious to tell them and remind ourselves of the GOOD NEWS. And with the lowly shepherds we can go to the manger to see this wonderful thing that God has done and then leave there to give praise to our God.

‘God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world.’

By the way: I have a friend who is a wonderfully kind and compassionate judge as I am sure many are.

 

MY PRAYER

Lord Jesus I come to you because I need some good serious learning from my God.

I am thinking about violence today, Lord. It’s overwhelming. It’s ubiquitous- in families, on the streets, in churches, at concerts and against all kinds of people. It’s on an international scale. We are fearful, anxious and angry.

I am thinking of you Lord who had every reason to be violent against your enemies, against those who were so set against you. Paul wrote somewhere that vengeance belongs to you but you never exercised it. Oh maybe against a few tables in the Temple but not against your adversaries. You wept over those who resisted you. You forgave a thief in his dying moments. You pardoned all your accusers and executioners. Somehow you are even going to restore your whole creation, the good, bad and ugly. Please give us some of your spirit to know how you are doing this.

When we consider your life it doesn’t seem that you were afraid. If anything, you looked evil in the eye and took it to the cross with you. You even let it take you to the cross. That was your own loving scheme to destroy the power of evil to hurt us. With just a word you drove the demonic powers to their ruin.

How is it that we have moved so far away from you? We’ve taken to protect our own little kingdoms instead of trusting yours first. Fear has caused us to amass more weapons of violence than ever. How did things get so bad?

Certainly there are ‘bad’ people out there but it seems that your goal was not to destroy them but to create a community that would be able to influence them, be agents of change for good in this world.

How often, Lord, did you tell us ‘fear not’ even for the people out to kill our bodies but couldn’t harm our souls. I’m not sure that assurance is planted in my own soul never mind taking it to the world. Have we gotten to the pointe of protecting ourselves so well that we think or act like we don’t need you?

And Lord, what about all this family abuse, sexual and otherwise. It’s rampant and now every day someone is being accused of assaulting others. Can we not find loving ways to combat this and other forms of evil? Is your church become impotent, prayer less, and loveless?

You know, Lord, that much of it starts with anger- plain ole simple egotistical anger. It’s in my own heart so I’m not judging others. Even conversations about violence bring anger to a boil in conversations that become heated arguments.

I feel like there are two kinds of people going into the Temple again to pray. One is standing and praying. Thank you Lord that I have this all figured out. Thank you for my righteous ways of violence against those who are my and your enemies. And the other person is simply praying, ‘Lord Jesus have mercy upon me, a sinner.’

Jesus, wasn’t there a time when you could have called 10,000 angels to come and rescue you and destroy your enemies but somehow you would rather trust you life to your Father. How did you do that? Can I do that?

Lord you could have come and taken the world by storm and simply destroyed your enemies but instead we are told you gave up all you power, your equal standing with God and humbled yourself to the point of becoming a servant and even further- to the place where you gave up your life. And in that same place we are told to have YOUR attitude, YOUR mind. Why does that make so many of us afraid? Why are we ruled by fear? Have we needed to replace the crucifix with some sort of gun or a tank or a nuclear bomb? That would look ridiculous and maybe that’s how it does look to you.

I fear Lord that you will leave us to ourselves with our greed, our boasts and guns and you will go to the poor, the vulnerable, the people who most trust you. Maybe you have already? Please don’t abandon us. There are many trusting people right here in our own nation, in our communities of faith who really want to know you and know your ways and know how you love so well. You are our fortress, our rock.

And Jesus, you tell us not to try to overcome evil with evil but rather with good. How can such good infiltrate the masses of terrorists seeking to destroy us? Maybe, just maybe we’ve not tried the good enough. The loving way seems weak and we have to entrust its results to you. Please help us towards that way, to beat our swords and egos into plowshares and instruments of peace and righteousness. It’s not about being strong is it? It’s about the power of love, isn’t it?

Jesus, I fear we have created a culture of violence that is hard to reverse and our little attempts seem so futile and risky. Violence seems to be our choice to resolve conflicts everywhere. Please help us all, perpetrators and victims to see this is not the way you set before us. We are to choose life, not death.

Lord, we need you grace to be sufficient in our weakness. I want to trust you more, be more expressive of your world conquering love, seek you more, plead with you more to be present to those involved in violence.

And all the while I want to pray for those who mourn, those who are too weak to even speak for themselves, like the little 18-month-old child and the unborn, those whose countries are on the brink of annihilation because the big nations are preparing for war.

And Lord please have mercy upon all your people in all your creation that they may have a resurrection to eternal peaceful life with you that they couldn’t have on this earth.

And Jesus, my own confession is that I am not all that peaceful. I think to live in your love but my first impulse at any kind of hurt is to be angry inside and on the outside. Please help me to establish your life in my life that I may speak and act as one who walks with the Prince of Peace.

Grace in Imperfection

 

No one who is born of God continues to sin (1 John 3:18).

Matthew 5:48 ‘Be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect.’

We don’t strive for imperfection. It is a natural occurrence. Imperfection is our failure to succeed in our goals or it may be the undesirable qualities in our character such as flaws or inadequacies or such.

When I buy reading material online I sometimes look for Christian books or bibles that are ‘slightly imperfect’ meaning there is something wrong somehow but whatever is flawed doesn’t change the content. It might alter the cover or something about the book that is not essential.

We tend to think of our imperfections as failings or even sin but in truth they are part of the maturation process that God is working in our lives. We made be made righteous in God’s judgment when we are in Christ but for the rest of our lives remains the process of sanctification or becoming more like the God in whose image we are made.

The image of God is not completely erased in humanity though it has been defaced even sometimes to the point of being unrecognizable. It is under the shadow of sin whereby we see dimly as in a dirty mirror. Yet in Christ, by placing our confidence in Christ, we are ‘new creations.’ (2 Cor. 5:17) Accordingly the letter to the Hebrews reminds us that God remembers our sin no more under the new covenant. (Hebrews 8:12)

Creation in the Fall of humankind has distanced itself from the creator but through Christ we are finding our way back. And the way back is sustained by the Grace of God in Christ.

I think of Christians as slightly imperfect in their walk, in that sin is still a part of our lives though God doesn’t see us as our sin but through the work, the sacrifice of his Son Jesus. Slightly imperfect means we don’t have it all together, we are not as mature as we could be. We are a work, God’s work, in progress, ever moving forward. In some respects our lives might even be a mess but we are God’s mess delivered from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s son. (Colossians 1)

While some people might even not find value in us, God does. He loves us immensely even to the point where the hairs on our head are numbered indicating his intimate value and knowledge of us.

But here’s the think. Our flesh, our ego, that natural part of us still sometimes affects deeply our relationship with God. We say we trust God but we worry. We are greedy. We are fearful and rebellious. But by God’s grace we are ever more steadily making our way into the rightful Kingdom. Luther once wrote that we are sinners and saints at the same time. Jesus tells us to be perfect and our life’s work is in understanding that perfection and living into it.

Let’s take a modern example to illustrate what this all means. If we have an addiction problem we go to the ‘rooms’ where others are dealing with the same struggle. And the only requirement to be there is the desire to stop the addiction, the behavior that is ruining us. One can actually go to an A.A. meeting intoxicated if he or she really wants to stop drinking.

Now I figure it is not less meaningful for the sinner who goes before God, most especially at worship to be able to say, ‘I want to stop sinning and follow Jesus more closely. That’s my greatest wish. I desire forgiveness and new life’. That is an imperfect Christian on the right path to perfection. Much as Paul meant when he wrote ‘work out your salvation in fear and trembling because God is at work in you to bring about the best according to God’s will.’ (Philippians 2:12,13)

The imperfect Christian is allowed by GRACE to struggle without shame and doubt but is transparent about these issues before other trustworthy brothers and sisters. They believe their sins are forgiven but their memory of their sins is better than God’s memory of their sins.

The imperfect Christian is willing to engage in the disciplines of the Christ life. Prayer, reading scripture, worship, helping others and more are exercises that will help the follower f Jesus strengthen his or her faith, trust and confidence. The imperfect Christian will seek knowledge not for its own sake but so that such wisdom will help them grow.

Christ’s gracious call is to take his yoke upon ourselves for the purpose of training us to live our lives with him, by him and through him.

There is a bumper sticker, which proclaims ‘Not perfect just forgiven’. That is a loophole for not trying our best. It is a statement that we are forgiven and going to heaven; but there is a lot of life to be lived in the meantime.

Recall Jesus words in Matthew 5:48. ‘Be perfect even as your heavenly Father is perfect.’ Jesus spoke those words with regards to loving our enemies; those who annoy irritate or even abuse us. Being perfect means being the best we can be. For example if you are a carpenter just starting out you want to frame a house as best you can. Taking shortcuts is not an option. And while you may not be as good as a 30 veteran you still do your best. That is if you are going to stay in business. The same would go for a teacher, a mom or a dad or anyone with any integrity. And as Christians we strive for our best but do not feel shame when our best might not on par with say, wait for it, ‘Jesus’.

We are on a path of following the Son of God who has called us to place our confidence in him. It was late Christian songwriter, Keith Green, who sang the words, ‘you give God your best and he’ll take care of the rest’. The Christian is called to strive for the prize. (Philippians 3:14) We are urged to press on. And when we fall we pick ourselves up and get back in the race. (Thank you Frank Sinatra)

But we don’t beat ourselves up. We don’t live in guilt and wallow in shame. And if our fall is, in our own mind, a sin- then we confess that to God and know, really know that we are forgiven and thus freed to live for Christ.

I want you to imagine a relationship between two people in love where neither has expectations for the other, where neither keeps score of any wrongs that occur. This is the state of the person who is ‘in Christ’ and thereby in union with God. And this position of salvation and life is sustained and maintained by the grace of the Father. The bible says that we are already seated with Christ in the heavenly place. (Ephesians 2:6) which I take to mean, ‘out of harms way’ in terms of any kind of judgment and so we are truly freed from having to ‘feel’ like we should be better than we are trying our best to be.

Or let’s consider the analogy of an electrician who is mentoring an apprentice. The mentor states that all that is needed is the apprentices’ trust and best effort. At their first meeting it is agreed that the degree and job are guaranteed. Of course there will be direction and even correction and warnings here and there but the covenant has been established and will not be broken. So too God is not breaking his covenant with us because it is Jesus who has sealed that covenant in his own blood.

All this gives us the freedom to live for Christ because at the heart of it all is the truth that it is not we who are living this life as Paul writes but it is Christ who is living it in us. (Galatians 2:20)

Already Forgiven

John 1:29

 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. (MEV)

So one day a friend told me he was going to visit his dying sister. He would tell her to ask God’s forgiveness for her sins. And then she could be assured she was going to heaven.

It got me to thinking that it would be better for her to simply say YES to God’s love for her. That love was revealed in Jesus Christ who has already forgiven her sins through his death. That’s what I take from John’s statement. She then would simply be trusting what has already been done for her.

Sure it would be wise for her to acknowledge ways she had disobeyed God and put up a wall between Him and her. Maybe she has misdeeds or missed deeds in her life that have been an enormous burden to her conscience. But I don’t think God needs a litany of offenses any more than did the father of the Prodigal Son.

Saying yes to God’s embrace and our desire to think differently about our future together is reason enough for much joy in heaven.

WHY GOD WON’T FORGIVE US

Recall that after Jesus teaches his disciples about prayer he concludes that if we don’t forgive others their sins, God won’t forgive us. Is that really true or was Jesus just using hyperbole to encourage this band of students to keep their community alive in love.

I want to throw this idea out there. It’s probably from someone else because that’s where all good ideas come from. Forgiveness means letting go of someone as though you were holding him or her by the neck for their debt to you or their trespass against you. It’s hard to hold out your hands to receive from God if you are preoccupied with payback from another.

You may remember Jesus telling the parable of the unforgiving debtor, one who having himself been pardoned by his master subsequently finds a debtor to himself out of whom this man almost literally chokes the life. Jesus concludes by saying that the first debtor was locked away for good.

Here’s the thing about forgiveness. It’s grace. It means doing for another what they cannot do for themselves. Grace means that you and I take the debt on ourselves as Jesus did for the whole world. If we cannot issue grace to another then it is evidence that we do not receive the grace of God and if we do not place our confidence in the grace of God we are left alone, removed from God as it were.

Amidst all the evilness of the world there is no one who does to us what we did to Christ. And make no mistake. He willingly took all that upon himself. He did it to make the world right with God. And anyone who wants to stand in that new world needs to do the same work with the help of God working in and through us.

Certainly it is possible to desire to forgive when the action comes with difficulty. God understands that. How hard was it for Jesus to take action to bring forgiveness to the world. Towards the end he would have like to escape such self-denying love.  So when it is difficult for us to forgive the best place to go is in the arms of our Savior to rest with him and abide with him and let him do the loving within and through us. Maybe it’s a little baby step at first but baby steps are good when we look to the growth they will bring.

So think of someone who needs your forgiveness even someone who has died. Think of someone far away or maybe in your own household. Then go to school with Jesus and let him teach you…and me the essence of his Grace.

And if we won’t forgive? Well, what we are saying to God is ‘no thank you.  We will handle life in our own way’, and we won’t want God anyway.

Many will come in those last days to Christ saying, ‘Lord Lord’ but Jesus will say that some will have to depart because they really didn’t want God’s will anyway.

But I would submit that forgiving another will be one of the greatest christian spiritual experiences of your life when you …and I let go of another to embrace God. That is the good life. So let’s be students of the good life.

 

 

Taking it for granted.

So I have been thinking that the reason many folks, including myself, don’t get the whole ‘love of God’ thing is that we take for granted God’s love. That love thing is what God does, doesn’t he? What’s the big deal? But the big deal is that we have little idea of what God’s kind of love really means; that even while we turned our backs on him he still loved us enough to send his only Son, Jesus to die for us. He did that while we were his enemies.

Imagine in war where one soldier is taught to give up his life for his fellow soldier. That’s often the instinct of a soldier or maybe it is from the kindness of his heart that he throws himself on a grenade to protect his friend. That’s all well and good but would this same soldier give his life for his enemy? That’s what God does for you and me. Somehow we bought the idea a long time ago that we weren’t really that bad so it didn’t take much for God to love us. Listen I would break down and cry if a friend saved my life. But if I am somehow held hostage and one of my captors gave up his life so I could escape well I would be daily grateful, more than words can say, for that man. Do we not know that’s what God did for us when he grabbed us from the jaws of hell to rescue us and make us into his friends?

Imagine your spouse leaves you to be with another partner, cashes out your bank account, and pretty much ruins your life. And then down the road a few years later he or she comes back to you to ask for forgiveness. How easy would it be to love him or her? That’s what God did for us. Took us back. Read the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. How grateful would that wayward spouse be upon being welcomed back and loved?

Suppose you are walking down the street and some guy comes up behind you and beats you half to death and steals your money. You end up in ICU in some downtown hospital. Later the guy  shows up at the door of your room and asks for forgiveness. You not only forgive him but you ask him to be your best friend and come and live with you. That’s the kind of love God showed his enemies, even the ones who beat his Son to death. I can only imagine the gratitude the aforementioned criminal might have each day for his earthly savior. Read how Isaac Watts, hymn writer and pastor from the 1700’s put it:

  1. When I survey the wondrous cross
    On which the Prince of glory died,
    My richest gain I count but loss,
    And pour contempt on all my pride.
  2. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
    Save in the death of Christ my God!
    All the vain things that charm me most,
    I sacrifice them to His blood.
  3. See from His head, His hands, His feet,
    Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
    Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
    Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
  4. Were the whole realm of nature mine,
    That were a present far too small;
    Love so amazing, so divine,
    Demands my soul, my life, my all.

 

Those last two lines really impact me. I owe not only my praise but also my whole life to this God who loves me so. Actually you could read the whole hymn and discover the amazing reality of God’s love poured out for us and poured into our hearts. Let it stir up our hearts to service and praise for the Lord God who loves us so. Maybe it’s why people have crucifixes to be able to sit and gaze upon the figure of Christ (not an idol) and then contemplate what he did for us.

That’s what love is all about. Not that we loved God but that he loved us first when we were lost, in the abyss of sin and he threw us a lifeline. Every day I want to be amazed at this love and remember how much he loves me. Not just the world but also each and every one of us to the nth degree. Remember how the song goes HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW.

 

THE KNEE IS CONNECTED TO THE HAMSTRING

SO after tearing my meniscus playing basketball I went to the therapist to get my knee fixed. I thought.
She began by saying, “We need to work on your hamstring and your quad and then your calf muscle and then your balance.” Whoa, I thought to myself. What about my knee? Seems that if you work on  discipline to other parts of your leg your knee will actually be better. Yeah, even the balance thing, standing on one leg, helps to strengthen all the parts around your knee and the outcome is a healthier, stronger knee.
Can you see where this is going? People want stronger faith and yet so often don’t want to go through the disciplines to get there. People want to love more and yet are hard pressed to discipline their lives towards love.
So that’s why we are told to read the Scriptures, memorize them, practice them to the end that our faith and our love are built up. That’s why we have the gift and discipline of prayer, to work on our faith and our love to the end that after much conversation with our God we will be strengthened. The discipline of prayer may start out as hard work. Being still before God is often hard work for busy people. But do it as much as you would do physical exercise knowing you will be better for it. You will understand the work of God, and much more the grace of God.I don’t mean a shout out to God once in a while but an intentional approach to God in quiet prayer or just sitting intentionally in silence before God knowing that such silence is a benefit to your spirit.
And then nothing beats practicing love. Forgiving someone, share a kind word with someone, giving up yourself for another who would not necessarily do the same for you. The more we call all practice that kind of grace in this world the closer we will grow to our Master, Jesus. And that is a therapy worth its weight in gold.
So here’s to the spiritual disciplines. I have mentioned but a few.  There are many more.
Blessings.

Entering the NO JUDGEMENT ZONE

 

If our sins are forgiven through Jesus Christ then why will we be judged at the end times as some say?

According to the God’s word when we truly confess our sins we are forgiven (1John 1:9) and God never again remembers our sins for we read in 1Corinthians 13 that love does not keep a record of wrongs. See also Hebrews 8:12.

There is no doubt that the children of God are loved by their Father in heaven and are not destined for any kind of judgment or punishment by Him. Paul writes in Romans 8:1 that there is no condemnation for anyone who is in/with Christ.

In Revelation 20 there is mention of the judgment of deeds but not for the believers who have followed Christ’s way. Believers’ names are in the book of life.

Another passage is Matthew 25 that speaks about the sheep and the goats which serves as a warning by Jesus to the ‘would be’ followers of Christ to do the things that come from a changed heart. In 2Corinthians 5:10 Paul writes For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.Again this is a warning to all of us Christians to live from our faith, from within our hearts.

Know that at any moment when one turns to God all sins and misdeeds and wrong deeds are forgiven. That is the nature of God’s grace and mercies. God is not interested in punishing us. Christ suffered that for us and to think there is judgment for anything in the believers’ life is to deny the finished work of Christ.

There is a sense in scripture that we may find different responsibilities in eternal life based on the work we have done in this life that again is given to us by the grace of God to accomplish. When the talents are given out say in Matthew 25 the one who is given 5 makes 5 more and the one who makes 10 is given 10 more. God desires from us only in that we are good stewards of what he gives to us. Some people are more talented than others but in eternal life it won’t matter. We will all rule, work and love together.

And what this means for right now today? Don’t judge anyone else, none. Thanks be to God for his grace and mercy.

That’s what I’m thinking.

 

 

THE GOOD LIFE

What is the good life? The life of joy and peace? Jesus offers us this life, his pulse beating through our hearts. Here are some of his final words to his disciples for their preparation to live:

“As the Father loved me, I too have loved you. Remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy will be in you and your joy will be complete. 12 This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. (John 15)

Jesus, the savior and the moment-by-moment teacher of life has given us everything we need for our joy. He has forgiven our sins. He has given us the gift of his commands, which leads to life. Some folks look at obedience to anybody as a challenge to their own rights but Jesus offers to instruct us how to live and not just as a dead teacher’s good advice but as one who is alive and with us right now. Recall his words to his disciples just before he leaves them. “I will be with you always.” (Matthew 28)

See nothing can separate us from God’s love, not even death. (Romans 8)

Jesus offers us the way to life through his words and his love. Just as he has kept the Father’s commands he offers us the way to salvation through keeping his words. He is promising us that we will be joyful people who attend to his words.

I hear someone once say that the commands of God are like guardrails keeping us safe on the road of life. Others say they are like prison bars keeping us from being free.

Fish live in water because it’s their environment for life. If they should choose to jump out onto the sand they would soon find out that freedom leads to death in this scenario.  I once had tropical fish in my office and one morning upon entering the room I noticed that one of the fish decided to be free- on the office carpeting. Free and dead was my little friend.

Have you ever played soccer or seen it played, or maybe basketball or for that matter any sport? Without boundaries and rules these games would be just chaos, no fun for anyone. So it is with life. Jesus offers us boundaries and rules to make the ‘game’ fun. You can condense all those commands into just two if you like. Love God as much as you can and love your neighbor as you love yourself.(Matthew 22) That pretty much says it all.

But because we are weak in the flesh we need more acute instruction. And so Jesus instructs us about things like anger and lust, worry and giving etc.

Jesus says that the freest place to be is within the Kingdom of God. You and I were made for the Kingdom. I know that atheist folks say ‘hogwash’ to that but what do they know, really? How do they know what they think they know?

Jesus comes along as the smartest, wisest, most loving man in all of history and invites us to live with him, according to his commands and tells us that the reality of God’s kingdom is the one thing you and I can count on. And who’s to say he is not right? Some folks blame their unbelief on years of religious oppression and cruelty, which Jesus never endorsed. Such history is lived outside of God’s kingdom, which is righteousness and peace. And the rules that Jesus lays out are meant to realize that peace and justice and goodness.

For example when Jesus tells us not to be angry he is inviting us into God’s reality of love and forgiveness. So when we learn how not to be angry (which can take some time for most of us) we begin to see life with God’s eyes and love with God’s heart.  Jesus shows us God.

One of the disciples once asked Jesus to show them the Father because they still couldn’t figure this kingdom stuff completely. Jesus said to them that after all this time of his presence with them they should be able to see the Father.

Consider these words from Jesus in John chapter 8-So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in my word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

Continuing in Jesus words means that we listen to what he has to say and that we obey his teachings because we have confidence that he knows best for us. If you want to learn to play piano you listen to your teacher. If you want to learn to be an electrician you study hard and listen to your mentor. If you want to do anything well in life then you listen to your instructor. Well, if you want to learn best how to live this life, how to be happy, loving, and righteous and the best person you can be and be free then you listen to your teacher, Jesus. He knows. He really does.

Freedom in the Christian life means that you don’t have to live in sin. We are freed by Christ to live the good life a life that is meaningful, purposeful and eternal.

It means that when you wake up in the morning you wake up in the Kingdom of God, with God, knowing that no matter what happens in that day you are not in the least removed from God’s love and presence brought to us by Jesus who himself said to us that he would be with us forever.

And get this. The apostle John writes in one place that the commands of Jesus are not hard. And Jesus himself tells us that he wants to connect up with us and give us responsibility that is in actuality quite easy. (See Matthew 11) Easy meaning that it fits us well. Of course there are to be problems and suffering in this world. Jesus faced it all but he has given us the tools to face insurmountable odds. At one point he says, ‘my peace I give you, not as the world gives.’

He knows everything about life, our lives, and the life of this universe and eternal life and invites us to entrust our lives into his care, guidance and to live by his rules.

The Sermon on the Mount is probably the best advice ever on how to live this life in the Kingdom of God. It’s three chapters long found in Matthew 5,6,7.

They are words from the very WORD of God to teach us that anybody can live in the Kingdom of God and that by listening to/reading his words we can have the best life ever.

What I sometimes find is that people misunderstand what the rules are. They think it’s about smoking, dancing, drinking and the like. No. His rules are avenues into our hearts. That’s why Jesus says that it is not enough not to kill someone. It’s about loving everyone especially those who are closest to us. We don’t have to work hard not to kill but to love is another story, another adventure if you will. This day or the next you will have opportunity to test that truth as you encounter people who aren’t always on your wavelength so to speak.

Now if we choose to live outside the Kingdom life it would like stepping out of bounds on the basketball court, like riding our cars with no gas (I want to be free of higher gas prices). I’m sure you can think of all sorts of analogies like jumping off a roof thinking that you can be free of gravity. Sure you can be free but you will be broken if you are into that kind of thing.

Jesus offers us the kind of freedom that allows us to love, to be kind, forgiving, and compassionate and in love with God. The Kingdom of me is about selfishness, anger, resentment, retaliation…it is a way that leads ultimately to the death of the soul. Maybe that’s why Jesus once said (Matthew 7) that the way to life is narrow and few find it. Perhaps for the most part people are into the ‘me’ life. The ‘I did it my way life’. I have to admit that on the surface it is mighty appealing and I am known to have walked that way often. But it is not the real life, real meaning the life that God has prescribed for you and me. It’s fleshly satisfying and fleeting. I want a life that endures, that is built on solid ground. It takes worth but then again what good thing doesn’t?