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“She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse……… because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.'” Mark 5:26, 28

“Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him,……Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.'”  Luke 18:39-40, 42

“Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; ‘” John 11: 24,25

In my previous full time work, I’ve undertaken significant research and developed several programs concerning organizational and personal improvement.  There is considerable research in many arenas, including Dr. Peter Senge from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, that has determined teams are the primary element for productive improvement and accurate decision making.  I have found that to be often  the case but the purpose of this post is not to delve into the reasons that might be the case.

The purpose of this post is, given the power of teams, to discuss the pros and cons, the impacts positive and negative, of our decisions about what teams we feel are our primary resource for living and how we approach them.  Of course, by its very nature a team requires more than one so we might often use the pronoun “we” in discussing our team.  I further submit that there are two broad types of we; the “w”e is the we made up only members of secular world with a secular outlook.  The other “we” is the “W”e which has as its primary member, Jesus Christ, plus one or more human members.

Now while I started out talking about my background in business the “w”e teams come from all over society:  man&wife, families, friends, clubs, churches, sports teams, business teams and many other types of gatherings.  It is not my intention, nor my belief to state that all these types of “w”e teams are evil or completely ineffective.  Yet my belief is that any and all “w”e teams by their very make up lack the power and the impact of the “W”e team and to the extent we rely solely or primarily on “w”e teams, we will find our plans and outcomes to be less than optimal.

For example, in the first scripture reference above, I don’t necessarily believe that the “w”e team of doctors and others who had tried to help the woman had been evil and just trying to steal her money.  It is very possible that they tried to the extent of their limited medical education of the time to solve her problem.  However, even with their best efforts the “w”e team had failed.

Now to the extent that a crowd or other impromptu gathering can be a “w”e, then their intentions may not be the best for all the members.  In the second scripture example, there was a member of the group who was in need.  However, the way the man was trying to get his need met was an irritant to the rest of the group, the greater “w”e.  Maybe the man was always yelling out at inopportune times or had some other obnoxious, disruptive tendencies.  Whatever the reason was, the group decided when they saw the man’s initial call to Jesus was not responded to, instead of trying to help his plea reach Jesus, they instead, wanted to silence the man and end his irritating (at least to them) behavior.   Had that “w”e group gotten their way, the man would have stayed silent and more importantly blind.

Here’s the bottom line with “w”e groups; they are limited.  The “w”e groups have limited resources, limited intelligence, limited strength just to mention some of their limitations.  Thus to the extent we rely solely or primarily on these groups, our outcomes will necessarily be limited as well.

Then there is the “W”e groups.  In this case it is a group who not only includes, but places as it Highest Member, Jesus Christ.  The woman with the long term medical condition decided to forego anymore “w”e, earthly groups and instead, humbly act to bring Jesus into a group of He and her with the hopes or being healed.  The outcome of that “W”e team did not disappoint her.  Additionally, a “W”e team can have an impact on a “w”e team.  Jesus ended up hearing the blind man calling to Him and ordered the blind man be brought to Him.  Once Jesus got involved, the “w”e team that had been ostracizing man for calling out, changed their tune and told him to be of good cheer.  In the final example, Martha’s brother Lazarus has died.  As Martha ponders the “W”e team or group of Jesus, as the Messiah, Martha, Lazarus, she still doesn’t understand the full power of Jesus as Christ.  When Jesus tells Martha that her brother will rise again, Martha believes that Jesus is talking about an end time of a mass resurrection.  Yet Jesus instructs her that He is the resurrection for this and all time and proceeds to raise Lazarus from the grave.

The last example illustrates a key characteristic of the “W”e team versus the “w”e team.  In the “w”e team, all the team members maybe equals, peers, where they are free to feel they have an equivalent say or power.  In the “W”e team we will be sorely incorrect if we believe that the team members are equal.  The true power of the “W”e team comes from the fact that Jesus Christ is omnipotent, omniscient and only through His magnificent Grace, are we allowed to be part of the “W”e.  Yet that doesn’t mean we don’t have a responsibility in being part of the “W”e.  First we have to believe in the He of the “W”e; in other words we have to believe in Jesus as Christ, the only Begotten Son of God.  As the lady and the blind man did; we have to approach or call out to Christ, to have a true desire to be on the “W”e team.  Finally the “W”e team shouldn’t be a haphazard membership sort of thing.  The “W”e team should be our primary resource.

One more thing, the “W”e team doesn’t just have to consist of two members

; Christ and you.  A husband and wife, a family, a church, even a work group, any or all of these can be “W”e teams.  All it takes is, regardless of the number of members, is that Christ is the head and the rest of the team is committed to serving Christ and each other.  Who puts in more of the effort?  Who is it who has taken all of our sins upon Him, died as a sacrifice in our place and rose again to be our Advocate with the Father?  As you read this may it be that in some sense we become a member of the “W”e team, plugging into His power, striving to bring about His plan and living a life that brings praise to Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we praise You that You would be so grace filled and merciful that You sent Your Son that we might be able to abide in Him and be a part of His team.  Forgive us when we disregard You and instead want to rely on our earthly teams.  Pour out Your Spirit that we might be strengthened to focus on being constantly on Your Team with its blessings and promise of ultimate victory.  That in living that life we would bring praise to Your Most Holy Name.  We pray in the Name of Jesus Christ.  Amen

 

“And He said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven'”  Matthew 18:3

“He said to them: ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.'”  Mark 10:14

“Which of  you fathers, if your son asks for a fish will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg will give him a scorpion?”  Luke 11:11,12

Jesus must have felt that having a childlike quality is pretty important.  This lesson is found in three of the four gospels.  It was one of the times that He found Himself being upset with His disciples; because they were trying to keep the children from coming to Jesus as Jesus had more important things to do.  What is Jesus getting at?  Is Jesus wanting us to act childish? Are there a bunch of brats in heaven?

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus goes on to talk about the humility of a child.  In other places, Jesus talks about the faith to move mountains.  What Jesus seems to be expressing in the example of children, the characteristics that will find the kingdom of heaven, are faith, humility and obedience.

What sort of faith are we talking about? I think a story that happened with one of my children might help illustrate this.  We were driving along with my daughter, dutifully, safely strapped into her car seat.  When I was growing up, I’m not sure that car seats were even a thing, but whether they were or not we didn’t use them.  We were free to roam across the back seat because in those days, seat belts were only upfront.  However, for a time I flew for a living and we had to strap ourselves in very tightly before we took off.  What always amazed me was how similarly confining the car seats seemed for these little kids.  Okay back to the story.  As I say my daughter was in the car seat and the sun was streaming through the back window hitting her right in the face.  Without a second thought, she made the following request to her mother:  “Mom, the sun is in my eyes will you please turn it off?”  Mom, please turn off the sun; that didn’t seem an outlandish request to my daughter.  Also, I truly believe that my daughter would have been in no way surprised if my wife had reached outside the car and somehow turned off the sun (of course everyone else would have had a canipshin fit).  What I’m saying is that my daughter had complete faith in her mother to ask her anything.  Sadly, our children soon learn the limitations of their earthly parents.  They grow out of the belief that their parents can do everything (sometimes that they can do anything).  Sadly, we also transfer that same “growth” in our perception of our Heavenly Father.  As we learn about natural laws and man made processes; we start to fit our Heavenly Father, into our own perceptions of possible.  That is why Jesus so often asks about people’s faith in His ability to heal them; and praises so emphatically the Roman Centurion who has no shred of doubt that Jesus could heal his servant with just an utterance of a word.

Quite often, early on, there is a real humility to a child.  I know it may not seem like it and again it is something that can quickly change with age, but little children so often ask permission.  It is not uncommon to hear:  “May I………”  Little children want to hold hands, they don’t tend to desire go their own way.  They wanted to be connected to the bigger thing than themselves which is the family.   It is true if we’re not careful about how we respond we can teach them that they are the center of all things and that it is their right to get what they want.

Again, you may ask me if I’m off my rocker, but young children can and will be obedient.  They can learn that there is someone of greater power than themselves, namely their parents, and that their parents have certain conditions which determine what is right and what is wrong.  While children will test those boundaries, often they will still feel that their parents are a higher power, and both respect and also in a way even fear that power, yet still be in love with their parents.  Again as the child grows, often that sense of “higher power” falls away as the child feels that they are becoming equal if not superior to their parents (right around the teenager time).

Here’s where I think the challenge comes in.  We do age.  We watch a progression with our children that as they age, they become more self sufficient, more independent.  They absolutely may very well love us the same or even greater.  Yet we teach them in formal and informal ways not to rely on us as much and to rely more on themselves.  They become that wonderfully, stand on their own adult, and we are proud of them for that.  From a human perspective there is no problem with that.  Yet Jesus Christ tells us, if we use the human progression model as our template for interacting with God, to the extent we “grow” into self sufficient, self reliant, no longer seeing a need to be obedient persons, we will fail to enter into the Kingdom of God.

We find value in calling ourselves “children of God” and it is right to do so.  You will not find anywhere an admonition to be called “adults of God”. We are to always continue to look at our relationship with God as a young child; that is to say with humility, knowing that God the Father is and always will be much greater than ourselves.  With faith, that Our Father God is perfect and has a perfect plan for us.  With obedience, that we are to submit and subordinate our will and our desires, to God’s will and His commandments for us.

Let’s use one more imperfect human comparison to illustrate how important this is.  Let’s say you are one of the wealthiest, most powerful, educated parent on earth.  You have the ability and desire to many great things for your child.  However, if your child should declare that they are turning their back on you, that they will not acknowledge you as their parent and will accept nothing from you or listen to anything you have to same to them because they don’t need you.  It would be extremely difficult, with your wealth, power, intelligence and best intentions to do anything for that child.

But, Doug, you say, my heavenly Father doesn’t do the good things for me that I need or that I want him too!  We have probably all had that thought at some point.  We know best what we need and He’s not giving it.  Let’s use the you’re the very wealthy, powerful, intelligent, loving parent example again.  If your child was abusing alcohol, let’s say, and they pleaded:  “All I want from you is more alcohol.  If you loved me you would give it to me and if you won’t give it to me then I reject you”.  A loving parent would know better and would not relent and give their child more alcohol.  They would stand ready to give the much needed help, but would not give into demands they know would hurt the child.

But human parents aren’t our Heavenly Father.  We get tired, we can get selfish, our patience and mercy can be strained.  Our resources aren’t unlimited, our plan and intelligence is not perfect.  Sometimes we have no idea what to do.  Our Heavenly Father has none of the failings or restrictions.

Our Heavenly Father is all about loving His children.  He even sent His Only Begotten as a sacrifice to save the rest of us.  His Son, who now calls us friends tells us, for that relationship to work, its not that God needs but we need to humble ourselves to be His loving, faithful, humble and obedient children through which it is Our Heavenly Father’s grace filled plan to share His kingdom and all of its blessings, this day and for eternity with we, His children He so loves.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we are filled with awe and amazement that You, the creator of all things, would desire to be the Heavenly Father to each of us.  Pour out Your Spirit upon us that we would but accept that relationship as a grateful, humble, loving and obedient child.  That in receiving the blessings of a Child of God, we would live into a right relationship with You as Our Heavenly Father that share Your Light and Love with this world and bring praise to Your Most Holy Name.  We pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else be loyal to the one an despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”  Mark 8:36, 37

 

Oft while striding the road of life
I come across separate paths of choosing
One path promises safety, stability and gain
whilst the other is about dreams, calling and risk
All too often I try
to tread both paths at once
Only to find their direction diverging
each step on each path requiring more effort
Until virtually no forward motion is possible at all
I then realize my folly for both cannot be tread together
I find that I can no longer stand an am forced to
my knees to cry out
God which path finds you at destinations end?
God which path serves you?

Mammon?  In the passage referenced above in some translations the word used is treasure.  On the website dictionary.com, the definition is riches and material wealth.  Here’s the challenge, for this seems to be a hotly contested concept in our world today, is about the obtaining of wealth or the focus on it?

Ahh, but here’s where I have an easy out, I might say to myself.  For you see,  I am not wealthy in any worldly sense (or at least compared to the “wealthy” in my own country).  Okay, I do have a nice, modest sized house, two cars, the standard electronics with the standard connections (cable, internet, etc.).  Thus, because I am not “rich”, do not have a stack of or the gaudy accoutrements of wealth; because I’ve started a blog page where I write posts hoping to praise God, I most assuredly must by serving God and not mammon right?

As I hope the poem above illustrates, the question about whom am I serving is not an easy one, hardly ever is just a one-and-done inquiry and, if we (or at least for me) are not careful, our choices can stop us in our tracks.  You see because “to serve or “serve”, also defined on dictionary.com, means to render obedience or homage to.  Let that concept soak in for a moment; render obedience or homage to……….

Here’s where I (I will not speak for we) get into trouble.  Here’s where gaining the world can put my soul at risk.  You see it doesn’t matter what the world concludes are riches, but what do I conclude are riches or a treasure?  What are my priorities built around?

Finally, where do I see God?  And based upon seeing Him, how do I serve Him?  Again in the poem above, I use the visualization of two paths; but I would encourage you to read King Solomon’ s description of his search for meaning in the Book of Ecclesiastes, because there you’ll find many different paths or perhaps mammon.  For material wealth can be mammon but so can, having a great professional title, or having a beautiful wife and many children.  Having tons of leisure time and activities along with considerable food and drink can also be mammon.  Even great education and fame can become a treasure.

So Dear Sisters and Brothers how can you or I know, if we are paying homage to, we are being obedient to mammon?  If we are open to it, if we will be still and listen, I believe our soul; given explicit warning from the Holy Spirit, will tell us.  For a soul, especially a soul once connected to God; despises becoming lost.  Being the spiritual creations of God Almighty that we are, our spirits yearn to be connected to God, to serve Him, to reject the treasures of this world and store up the treasures of God’s Eternal Kingdom.  The challenge is we are not just spiritual creations but material creations as well.  There are times when we allow the world, the desires of the world as well as the fears of the world,  for remember, quite often we’re not obedient to something out of desire for, but from fear of, to set our priorities and drive the choices we make.

In some practical terms; do I perceive that the gain, however humble it might be comes from the vocation that I do?  When faced with a choice of time, effort, focus and desire; is my first inclination toward the earthly job that I do, calculating that it is the job from whence my ability to live comes from?  Conversely, this dream that I have, this passion that I feel is on my heart; is that about bringing glory and fame to myself?  Is my overarching plan about achieving self promotion or personal adulation?  Do I see God in my choices and do I see His Kingdom as the desired destination of my journey?

I have found that this decision, God or mammon, is not a one time thing or determination.  The world and the prince/enemy of and in this world, will continue to throw mammon of all types at us; either mammon to gain, or the fear of losing the worldly mammon that we have.  Satan will try to convince us, that we are responsible for what we have and thus our focus must be on the responsibility as well as what we have.

Yet take heart Dear Sisters and Brothers.  Jesus Christ, came and was tempted.  Jesus Christ knows our struggles.  Jesus Christ took upon Himself the burdens of our sins.  The grace of Christ’s salvation has included the Holy Spirit sent to testify to and strengthen our souls that we may withstand the temptation to focus on mammon.  Are you facing a decision today?  Does their seem to be ambiguity between what is mammon and what is God?  Take a moment to pray and be silent.  You and I will be instructed on the path, narrow as it is, too take and tremendous blessings both now and eternity will come in selecting God’s path for us.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we humbly confess that we stumble over whom to serve mammon or You.  Pour Out Your Spirit upon us, testifying to us what path You would have us choose and when we’ve strayed off that path.  Help us, through Your Mercy, to see only one true treasure, which is stored up for us in Your Kingdom.  Forgive us when, either through desire or fear, we are tempted to or even start down the wide path toward earthly mammon and destruction.  In Your love, guide us back, that our lives in and through You would be faithful examples of lives in service to You.  We pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 

 

 

 

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them…..Then God saw everything He had made and indeed it was very good”  Genesis 1:27,31

“God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.'”  Exodus 3:14

God is the Creator.  God is the only Creator!  Please do this for me; look up.  What do you see?  God created that.  Now, look to your left and look to your right.  What do you see?  God created that.  Now, look down (I know, you know what’s coming next but I’m going to ask it anyway). What do you see?  God created that.  Okay, about this time some of you may be wanting to push back saying: Now Doug, when you tell me to look all around I’m seeing things I built, that I “created” or at least were created by another person.  So while I completely acknowledge that it may be true that you or some human being manipulated God’s initial creation to reform it, to build it into something different, that does not alter the fact that God created the initial components of it.  So now that we’ve established the precept that God is the Creator, take a  moment just to be silent and contemplate that all things, visible and invisible, God created………..                                          (okay times up)

Where am I going with this? First, God created some amazing, stunning, powerful beautiful things to be sure.  Yet of all the countless things, stars, flowers, waterfalls; and on and on, only one thing did He declare, upon its creation, that He created in His own image.  Again, stop and really ponder this for a moment.  Of all creation, we are the only things, you and I, that were created based upon God’s image

Next, and this may seem particularly obvious, God is talented at what He does.  Not only is He talented at it, but scripture tells us in Genesis, that God was happy with His creation.  That five out of six days of His creation, He saw what He had created and pronounced it “good” (and when God says something is good you can take it to the bank).  Yet after creating You and I on the sixth day, He, God that is, pronounced something different.  He looked at what He had created in His own image and didn’t just pronounce it good; He pronounced it, that is You and I, very good!

So I’m going to slightly deviate off topic for a moment to cover an aspect, sadly at least for me, which seems to come up within some people of faith when we discuss the creation story.  This particular aspect is that, really only man, that is the male was created in God’s image and the female was created in man’s image so, in some way she is an inferior creation to the male creation.  Or perhaps the male is more “very gooder” (I earnestly and deeply apologize to all English teachers out there) than the female.  However, scripture seems very clear in the passage quoted directly out of Genesis; ….male and female He created them.  It was only after creating them both, did He pronounce their creation, very good.

Now let’s get down to the crux of this posting.  You may be feeling insignificant.  The world may be telling you, you don’t matter.  You may have people tell you that, to make a difference, to be important, you must dress a certain way, act a certain way, step all over your fellow person, have more, be more, make more.  If you don’t fit into the world’s more; you are of little to no value.  You are inconsequential.  Don’t you believe it!  You and I are the only things created in the image of God and proclaimed to be very good.    Also, that Image we are created in did not include big houses, fancy cars, fine clothing or expensive jewelry.  Hardly, in fact we were created nude, with the provisions of God to take care of us.

Yet before we get too high on ourselves and too vain concerning our existence, we must remember; an image is not the same, is not equivalent to the original thing.  You and I are not God.  We are not the Creator.  We are not equal to the Creator.  You and I are not as wise, as powerful, as loving, in short; we are not perfect like the I AM, Our Father in Heaven, God Almighty.  Tragically, we sometimes fall victim to the temptation to believe that the image is as good as the real thing.  Jesus Christ warned of that when He replied to the rich young man who came to ask Him a question and called Him a “good teacher”.  Jesus rebuked the young man telling him that no earthly man is good; only God in Heaven is truly Good.

So the paradox of being the only thing created in the image of God is this; we can be confidently humble.  Confident that God sees value in us.  How do we know?  Because God saw so much value in us that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, do die for us and take away our sin.  Humble in that, we are not God.  We can not defeat the power of Satan on our own.  Our plans, our judgements our knowledge, our ability to love is not perfect and, unless we abide in Jesus Christ we can do nothing.  Conversely though, we are promised, and may be the only thing in creation to have this promise, that if we abide in Christ, we can do all things.

Dear Sisters and Brothers; scripture tells us that God created us.  That upon seeing us, He declared His creation very good.  That God loves us and will never abandon us and His Grace will be there for us regardless of what we do.  However, we must also be humble in our understanding that we are not God.  We are fallen and do sin.  That we must have Jesus Christ as our Savior to accomplish anything.  That we are only the image of the I AM, yet even that is enough to find peace and joy and bring praise to the Creator’s Name.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we are humbled and thankful that You saw fit to create us in Your image and pronounce that creation, very good.  Forgive us when we forget that, although created in Your image, we are not You or equal to You.  Also forgive us when we count Your image to be nothing and value the images of this world more.  Pour out Your Spirit of Truth upon us, testifying of Your Love for us and Your desire to be with us every moment of our existence.  Give us the power to resist the temptation of this world to seek after our own image and instead abide in Yours.  That, in living into Your image, we would bring about Your will for us and the world, through Jesus Christ our Lord and in His Most Holy Name we pray.  Amen

“This is My body which is given for you, do this in remembrance of Me”  Luke 22:19

“But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”  Matthew 21:29

“To Him who struck Egypt in their first born, for His mercy endures forever.”  Psalm 136:10

Time.  Time can be a challenge for us.  We’ve entered into a time of year, the Season of Lent, where we reflect on as well as prepare ourselves for the commemoration and celebration of, the entering into relationship with Our Living Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through His life, death and resurrection.

So how can time become an issue?  It’s not about making time to reflect or prepare.  It can be an issue because of our limited human perspective as it applies to time.  You see we are a species limited to a linear perspective, especially when it comes to time, the passing of time and the language we use to express it.  Let’s look at some examples.  We say Jesus had his “last supper, we say the Christ was arrested, suffered and was crucified and we say that He rose again from the dead.  Now please don’t misunderstand me, I whole heartedly believe that those things actually happened.  The challenge for us is when we consider those things in a historical context; that is to say we commemorate and celebrate that they happened over 2,000 years ago, we may find that we primarily attach importance to them as strictly historical events.  The danger can be that to the extent we celebrate them solely in a historical context, Christ can become primarily a historical figure, like some great past societal leader, sports great, or other celebrity, who although we acknowledge their existence and even their greatness in their time, they have very little relevance to us in today’s world, in the present time.  Worst yet, if Christ has little relevance in today’s world, we can go searching for someone else to who we should pay more attention to, who has more relevance for us today.  Heaven Forbid!

Notice that Christ, Himself, in the way He communicated wanted to make sure that we understood He was the Savior, the King of Kings, for all time.  He tells us He will feast with us again.  He promises us that He is preparing rooms for us in His Father’s House and He will return to bring us back home.  Christ promises us to send, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit to us.  In each of these things, Christ is speaking in the present tense.  He is not speaking about one particular place or people in time.  He is promising this for all who love and follow Him, for all time.

Dear Sisters and Brothers, that Jesus Christ was willing to come to earth for us, teach us, suffer for us, take our sins upon himself and die for us is an act of love and sacrifice beyond measure and understanding.  It is right that we should humbly, with meekness and awe in our hearts, commemorate and celebrate His sacrifice for us.  David also understood the necessity of reminding people of the glorious, miraculous deeds God had done for His people in the past when David reminded the people of the Passover some 400 years after it took place.  However, David did that, not just to revel in some past miracle, but to stress the point that God’s mercy was the exact same mercy in the present as it had been 400 years previous in the time of Moses and freeing of the Jewish people.

Thus, let us make sure, not only during the Season of Easter, but each and every other season of the Christian Calendar as well, to be in an ever present relationship with our living, ever relevant Savior, Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ who is as very much alive today, whose love and authority is just as powerful and pertinent today as it was when He uttered these two promises; “for without me you can do nothing,” and “greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father”.   Notice that both of the statements, as well, are in the present tense.  In fact it is imperative that we understand that Christ was telling us, He wanted us to know that today, this very moment and all moments to come we can do nothing without Him, yet abiding in Him we can do greater works then He did on earth.

Let us celebrate that Jesus Christ is alive today.  He has no desire that we should only honor and look longingly back to those things He did in the past.  Jesus Christ makes it clear that He desires to have a vibrant, personal relationship with us this very moment, now and forever more.  A relationship of everlasting love that glorifies the name of Our Heavenly Father and showers us with blessings of peace and joy.  May all have a wonderfully blessed and happy Easter.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we are so very thankful for the word which You have allowed us to have that teaches us and reveals the lengths that You will go to have a loving relationship with us.  Forgive us Merciful Father when, through our limited ability to comprehend and perceive, we see Your Word, especially as it applies to Your Plan of Salvation through the death and resurrection of Your Son Jesus Christ as something that happened in the past with little relevance to us today.  Pour out Your Holy Spirit and have Him testify to us, the living nature of Your Promise, through Your eternally living Son, Jesus Christ.  Help us to see and experience a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through which we are able to humbly come, being redeemed by His blood, into your presence.  These things we pray in the name of Him who died once that we who call on His name will have eternal life, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

“Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”  Matthew 16:17

“Get behind Me, Satan!  You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men!”  Matthew 16:23

First off, I’ll admit that I am a person who often reads the bible in small pieces.  Sometimes it may be a chapter but most often it is only a handful of verses within a chapter that make up a single thought or story and sometimes even a single verse.  While that can be appropriate for contemplating and praying for meaning, it can also cause me to miss the context of how messages fit together in the greater scheme of God’s narrative.  Take the two verses above.

Also first, I have to say that I find myself drawn in sympathy, empathy and admiration to Peter.  Why; let’s look at the two verses above.  In Matthew 16, Jesus starts out preaching against wrong teaching.  Some of the very basics of the wrong teaching is that people don’t understand who Jesus is.  So Jesus first asked who the people thought He was, with a string of wrong answers in reply.  Then Jesus asked; who do the disciples say that Jesus is?  Peter replies with the great answer:  “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”, to which Jesus replies with the quote of Peter being blessed.

Just stop and imagine that for a moment and put yourself in Peter’s place.  You are a fisherman with no formal training.  You’ve been around people, learned people who claim that Jesus is a fraud, with others claiming Him to be merely a prophet or perhaps even Elijah.  But you (remember being Peter) step forward and give the answer you truly believe in faith.  Not only does Jesus, the One True Son of God, commend you and tell you you’re right, but goes on to say that you received that from God, Himself and; if that wasn’t good enough, that you will be receiving the keys to the kingdom of heaven!  Now we can’t be sure but one wonders when Jesus turned His back if Peter (and possibly you or I would have) was pointing at himself with both of his thumbs as if to say:  “That’s right you heard it from the Man, I’m the Rock!”

Ah, how fleeting is human fame.  Because the very next verses, the very next thing that is spoken of see’s Peter come crashing down.  The bible does not give us a sense of time between the two happenings.  We can’t say for certain if it was hours, days, or even weeks but it is the very next thing that the Word wants to stress in this gospel.  It is time to start to prepare the disciples for the true mission, the true reason for Jesus the Christ coming to earth; to die as a sacrifice at the hands of His own people and rise again on the third day.  To Peter, this is too much, the Son of God can not die, especially not being killed by the very people He came to save.  So Peter decides he must intervene.  In front of the disciples, Peter pulls Jesus aside and the gospel tells us, started to rebuke Jesus.

Again, please stop and let this sink in.  You’ve very recently declared that Jesus was the Christ, the Only True Son of God.  Now, you are going to pull the Son of God aside and chastise Him, tell Him that He is wrong!  No wonder the reply was as swift as it was devastating.  Peter had gone from being the Rock, to being Satan!  How did that happen?

Here is the lesson of Peter and it doesn’t just happen once.  Peter is blessed by God with the knowledge of Jesus as the Christ.  Then the world and the message of the world seeps in and Peter feels that he knows enough to rebuke Christ.  Christ’s Heavenly Father needs Him to die on the cross.  Peter’s human perspective needs Him to live and be an earthly conquerer and king.  Peter is the only disciple to walk on water.  He challenges Jesus to beckon him to walk on water and Jesus does just that.  Peter steps out and actually walks on water but then world seeps in.  The world, in the guise of winds and waves, causes Peter to fear, take his eyes of Jesus and he starts to sink.  Peter, is the only disciple to come to Jesus’ defense in the garden, standing up to the crowd and striking the slave of the high priest.  Jesus admonishes Peter and ends up arrested and the world crashes in.  The world tries to tie Peter just to knowing Christ let alone fighting for Him, and Peter denies it three times.

Ah Peter, Peter, Peter.  Yet truth in fact how many times could I look in the mirror and call myself or at least see myself as Peter?  How many times have I been blessed by God and instead of being truly humbled, felt that I obtained some sense of greater insight or wisdom.  Then, when I heard some preaching or read something in the gospel that I found different than my understanding, started to rebuke the gospel or disavow the preaching; letting Satan and his perspective seep in?  How many times have I asked for something and in the blessing of God’s granting it, found myself in some new and uncertain place where metaphorical winds and waves are crashing around me and fear tries to drive me away?  How many times have I been tempted to be less than bold in proclaiming my love for and followership of Jesus Christ allowing my silence or timidity to be a rejection?

Dear Sisters and Brothers, we can learn so much from Peter yet to do so we must be very frankly honest with ourselves.  But here is the final point I’d like to make and it comes from the Gospel of John.  With all that Peter does, Jesus Christ loves Peter.  Jesus Christ doesn’t judge Peter, He restores Peter.  Jesus Christ knows, not only the failures of Peter, but knows that, filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter will be the rock on which Christ’s church will be built.  Peter is not perfect but he is redeemed.  Likewise, Christ knows the plans He has for you and I and, like Peter did, when we humble ourselves and proclaim our love for Christ, He will redeem and restore us in Love, Mercy and Compassion as only Jesus Christ can do.

We must fight against the duality that the world will try to have us adopt.  Yet we can have faith, take strength and find peace, as Peter did, in the redeeming and restorative love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we humbly thank you for the revelatory nature of Your Word.  We equally thank you for the Holy Spirit who You sent to reside in us, to explain to us Your Word and the message of Your Love it has for us.  Forgive us when we allow the message and perspective of the world, of Satan to encroach on us and lessen the impact that Your Word can have in and through us.  As Your Son Jesus Christ did for Peter, restore us when we have fallen allowing us to return to You, Your Love and be feeders of Your sheep.  We pray this in the Name of the One True and Only Begotten Son who came to earth to be our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen Read the rest of this entry »

“And when the demon was cast out and the mute spoke, and the multitudes marveled saying, ‘It was never like this in Israel.'”  Matthew 9:32

“But the Pharisees said, ‘He casts out demons by the ruler of demons.'”

“And in them the prophesy of Isiah is fulfilled, which says:  Hearing you will hear and not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive…”  Matthew 13:14

Filter – to slow or partially obstruct the passage of

You’ve heard it said that “perception is reality”.  However, what is actually meant would be the more accurately stated:  Our perception determines our reality.  Then, based on that last statement, our behavior is then determined based on our perception based reality.  Understand this, we all do it.  We all have filters by which we experience things and then determine their meaning.  Actually our filters are very needful and potentially helpful things.  They can allow us to avoid potentially harmful and dangerous situations without having to actually experience the situation in the first place.  They can also allow us to see a new situation as an opportunity and thus we can take advantage of it although we may not have ever been in that specific situation before.

So where am I going with this?  Jesus becomes a “situation” on earth.  In the truest sense He is a physical reality.  As a physical reality He does things.  In the circumstance quoted above in Matthew, Jesus is healing people, allowing the blind to see and, by casting out demons, allowing a mute man to speak.  People are seeing this happen; they’re experiencing the miracle in their midst; and then their filters kick in.

On the one hand you have the filter of the masses, the “common folk”, if you will.  You see that had lived for a while.  They had their religious leaders  who had power.  Perhaps they had even seen persons before who claimed to be a prophet, maybe even the messiah.  And of course they had seen or at least knew people could be blind or mute.  Yet in all their experience or even in the experience of those they had heard about in Israel, nowhere had the seen or heard about a man who could make the blind see or the mute talk; and then their filters clicked in.  As far a learned people were concerned these were not.  The only knowledge of the scriptures would come from what they heard preached at the temple or perhaps what was told to them, handed down by their parents.  They were not scholars in Mosaic law as the religious leaders would have been.  So the outcome of their filtering of the situation is they marveled.  In a seemingly positive way they proclaimed that nowhere before had these marvelous things been done by anyone.

On the other hand, remember seeing the same physical reality that the masses had witnessed, the Pharisees had a completely different filter and thus a very different reaction.  First these were men in power, besides the outside induced Roman power, they were amongst the highest legitimate power in their society.  Second, they were learned men.  They had access to the scriptures themselves and the knowledge to read and interpret them.  Yet with all their power and all their learning; they could not come close to wielding the power that this, seemingly itinerate preacher from a far off speck of a town could wield.  Their filter saw Jesus as a threat.  Their filter said to them, that they were good, God fearing people and if they could not heal like Jesus did, could not cast out demons like Jesus did, then Jesus power must not come from good; but must be a greater power of evil.  Jesus must be a ruler of demons.

Again why is this important?  Remember we today, all of us have filters too.  We decide to read the scriptures or not based on whether we believe, whether our filters tell us they have any value in today’s world.  Should we decide that they do have value, as we read the scriptures; we filter what we read, what we believe based on our filter about what is possible by the Power of Almighty God.  How we approach faith, prayer, worship, love are impacted by our filters.

Finally and this is vitally important to understand Dear Sisters and Brothers; our filters are not in the strictest sense our own.  For in the parable of the sewer, Christ talks about the wicked one coming and snatching the word from the hearts of some.  The Prince of this world Satan, can add things to our filters that clogs the true meaning and love from making it through our filters.  Conversely, he can rip our filters wide open so that a flood of earthly messages stream through along with and drowning out the message of Christ.

Yet there is One promised who is more powerful than Satan.  One who will reside in our heart and manage our filter to allow in the message of Christ and keep out all others.  That One is part of the Triune God; the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is promised as a Helper to come and reside with us and “guide us into all truth” (John 16:13).

Thus, going forward we must understand about our filters.  We must know about the power that they have their ability to be flawed.  We must not trust them should they be leading us down a path that is different from the scriptures.  We must study and pray diligently for indwelling of the Holy Spirit and be open to the Truth that He will speak to us.  In the world, we filter our water with the belief that the purest water is the best for our being.  Let us strive to align our spiritual filter through the Holy Spirit to the True Word of Our Heavenly Father so that our true being and the life that we lead in that being would be pure as well.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we are a people of imperfect judgement because we see things through flawed eyes.  We confess that we use our own filters to decide what is right and wrong sometimes leading to decisions and actions which are sin.  Forgive us Most Merciful Father and strengthen us in Your Truth through the Holy Spirit who will block the influences of the evil one and lead us to the True path of Jesus Christ.  Give us a yearning in our heart to study and ponder Your Word and be in prayerful relationship with You always.  That our perception and reality would be based on the Word of Jesus Christ causing our behavior to be of praise and honor to Your Most Holy Name.  We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen

“He said to His disciples: ‘ Let us go over to the other side.'”  Mark 4:36

He said to His disciples:  Why are you so afraid?”  Mark 4:40

Jesus has been teaching the crowds that had gathered around a lake.  He spoke many things to them and also taught them in parables.  After meeting with the crowds he also met with His disciples teaching them the meaning of the parables he had been using with the crowd.  Most of His disciples had been with Him for some length of time.  They had seen Jesus heal people, three had seen Him raise a girl from the dead.  They had seen and tasted the water turned into wine that was Jesus’ first miracle.

So now it is time to move on.  It was not the disciples who thought it would be good to go across the lake.  It was not some outside party who sent the group out onto the water.  It was Jesus’ plan to go out across the lake.  He told His disciples to get into the boat and then He got in with them.  The disciples, His disciples, were following Jesus.

Jesus felt comfortable enough to go to the back of the boat and go to sleep.  This shows the human aspect of Jesus that He needed sleep just as you and I would.  Then the storm came.  Maybe a little wind and some moderate chop at first, but over time it grew into a full blown gale with strong winds and monstrous seas.  Please understand five of the disciples were fishermen.  Their experience on the water would be enough to know whether to be scared or not and scripture tells us; they were all scared.  So scared that they became desperate.  We don’t know if there was any argument over whether to wake Jesus or not but regardless, fear won out and they woke Jesus.  Yet even then, in waking Jesus they were respectful to who they thought He was.  For the called Him teacher and let Him know that they were in peril of drowning.

Now here’s the thing for them and for us.  Jesus is more than just a teacher.  Jesus is more than just a great healer.  Jesus is the Christ, the one true only begotten Son of God.  He was there at the creation of this earth, that body of water, the air which had become the wind, the trees that were the basis for the boat.  Every aspect of the situation the disciples found themselves in; Jesus Christ was in charge of.  The disciples were following Jesus, quite literally.  They followed His direction to get into the boat.  The agreed to go to the place Jesus was sending them to.  They had the very real understanding that Jesus was right there with them.  Yet we have something they did not, at the time.  We know that Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead.  We know the power that Jesus Christ has within Himself.  Because the disciples were exactly where Jesus Christ wanted them to be; doing what Jesus Christ wanted them to do (except being afraid); they were never in any danger.  No harm could touch them.

For us the question is; are we in Jesus’ boat? Be sure we understand; the question is not; is Jesus in our boat?  If it’s our boat then we are in charge, we’re deciding the destination, we are responsible for its safety and Jesus is just a passenger.  But we can not stop the wind, we can not quiet the waves.  We have not the power.  So let us hear Jesus Christ.  Let’s hear His teaching, let’s witness His divine healing power; let’s listen for His words of guidance He is giving to us.  Then let’s get in His boat.  As much as we are humanly able to do; let us do so without fear.  Let us understand that the storms will come, the waves will seem huge.   The winds of the world will howl with rage against us.  We may be tempted to lose hope and feel that we are about to swamped in despair by the storms of this life.  Let us be with Jesus and remain calm.  Yet even this story gives us a great hope.  Let’s say we lose our faith.  Let’s say that we become deathly afraid.  Then run to Jesus!  Cry out to Jesus!  Know that Jesus will calm the storm.  Know that there is no earthly or spiritual power that can prevail against Him.  Know that He will restore the calm, He will bring the peace.  Know that as long as we are in the boat of and with Jesus Christ, we are completely safe.  Know that will quiet every single storm.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father; thank You that You have seen fit to send Your Son, Jesus Christ to become human and be with us.  Thank You that He took the time to teach us, to heal us, to save us; physically as well as spiritually.  Help us Dear Father to follow Jesus Christ and let us find that we are in His boat.  And being in His boat we pray that we will have the spirit of faith that we will not fear as the world storms around us.  Forgive us, Merciful Father, if we lose faith and fear destruction.  Hear us when we call out and come and swiftly calm the tempests that blow against us.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

“In the world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you…”  John 14:27

We just finished celebrating Easter so it might seem strange that a Christmas story; in reality Charles Dickens’ classic: A Christmas Carol would come to mind in pondering Easter, or more accurately, our response to Easter.

“What right have you to be merry?   What reason have have you to be merry? You’re poor enough”, said Scrooge.

“What right have you to be dismal?  What reason have to you be morose?  You’re rich enough”, returned the nephew.

This exchange comes from the main character; Scrooge, truly a man of the world where wealth and the security it brings is the only thing, and Fred, Scrooge’s not nearly as successful nephew.  The focal point of the their exchange is Christmas and whether or not it could or should be merry.  Scrooge finds no merriment in the concept of Christmas because wealth is spent with no guarantee of any return.  Fred sees Christmas as a time not to be concerned about return on investment or any other matter of wealth accumulation but of charity and forgiveness.  Scrooge, man of the world, demands that his nephew depart and take his foolish thoughts with him.

Okay, Doug, fine story you say, but what has that to do with Easter?  Great question.  You see it all comes down to this premise; what is my response, my behavior based on the acts of Easter and why do I have the right to behave in that manor?  It is the conflict of two perspectives.

Let’s take the world’s perspective for a moment.  Before last Easter Sunday and after last Easter Sunday, there was war, where human beings  were and are doing unspeakable things to each other on a disastrously grand scale.  There were and are famines and droughts, plagues and natural disasters, swindlers and thieves and troubles of ever size and kind.  The logical, natural and right responses to these circumstances would be one of despair and woe, feelings of anger and perhaps fear.  One might very well expect for their to be widespread angst, depression, worry and gloom.

Then along comes a person of faith.  That person is cheerful maybe even joyful, with a smile on their face and a heart full of love and yes even hope.  They have a confidence about life.  And while they will mourn with those that are hurting, there is a deep sense of peace and faith in a rightful outcome.  The man of this world might say to them, cry out to them, scream in their face: “What right have you to be joyful, peaceful, full of bliss!?”.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, we must be careful about our behavior.  We must look to see if the concerns, worries, cares and fears of this world are causing us to behave in a way of despair and giving up.  We must ask ourselves: “What right have we to act in a manner of hopelessness, of worldly fear and human rage and judgement?”  Jesus Christ described our description in His prayer to Our Father when he said:  ” As you sent Me into the world; I also have sent them into the world, “.  Yet He also declared in that same prayer that:  “….they are not of the world just as I am not of the world.”. (John 17: 18 & 14)  The world is always trying to pull us down to its level.  The world does not want us to see us as any different than it is.  On the one hand it is true that we are not different.  That is to say that we are not more deserving, more inherently righteous than the world.

What right have we to be joyous?  What right have we to be at peace?  What right do we have to act confident in our faith?  We have the right and we have the duty to act in this way, in and through Jesus Christ.  The gift of Easter gave us that right.  In the end, world knew and knows death.  Death was and is the outcome of all things worldly.  If we are of the world, we are very correct to fear death and all things associated with it.  But Jesus Christ conquered death; once and for all!  Let that last part sink in….once and for all.  That means that no one other than Christ ever need die in sin again.  Jesus Christ took all of our sin upon Him.  Also, Jesus Christ died for us all.  Jesus just didn’t die for the chosen people of Israel, or the people who go to church on Sunday, or the people that give a certain amount, sing a certain song, go to a certain church.  No He died for us all.

Sadly, not everyone responds to the sacrificial gift of Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation from our Heavenly Father.  Bewilderingly, they would rather stay in the world, stay in worry, stay in hopelessness and die in fear.

Let us not follow them.  Let us give everlasting thanks and live joyously and confidently in the knowledge of the love our Heavenly Father has for us by His gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Through the gift of understanding through the Holy Spirit, let us live right lives in love, mercy, charity and forgiveness.  If and when asked what right do we have to live this way; let us not claim it as our right but more accurately claim it as His Right, the right to live in Jesus Christ who came to live, to teach, to heal, yes to die and yes to save through His resurrection, which is the only right life indeed.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we are so thankful for the loving sacrifice of Your Son Jesus Christ, coming to live among us and die for us.  Fill us with Your Spirit of Joy, Confidence, Forgiveness and most of all Love, that our lives may shine as beacons to Your Name.  Forgive us when we fall into the temptation to live as the world lives, in fear, hopelessness and dread.  Restore us in faith, we pray, that the way in which we live our lives will entice others to call upon and praise Your Most Holy Name.  We pray in the Name of Jesus Christ.  Amen

“Or if he asks for an egg will give him a scorpion?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children; how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”  Luke 11:11, 12

“The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden and there he put man…..the Lord God made every tree grow that is….good for food.”  Genesis 2:8,9

I want to start out categorically stating that I don’t believe we have the capacity to see Our Heavenly Father as He truly is.  His glory, his very perfect nature is beyond our ability to comprehend.  So this is not about our perception being His reality.  Yet how we see and perhaps how we attempt to see our Heavenly Father, I believe makes the biggest difference in our lives.

Jesus is very clear as He speaks about God and His relationship to Him.  He calls God, His Father.  Jesus also, though, does not stop there.  For in teaching us how to pray, he calls upon us to start out “Our Father”.  In Luke above, Jesus Christ uses the term “your Heavenly Father”.  Jesus could have used the term your Creator or your God, however, seemingly He wanted to communicate a level of relationship.  The relationship of a Father.

On the one hand there is a great blessing involved in Jesus’ words in that He who is the creator of all things; the Alpha and the Omega, desires to have a personally close familial relationship corresponding to the sense of a parent to a child.  On the other hand, we may be tempted to compare that which we can not truly, accurately comprehend; the relationship of Our Heavenly Father to His children, with the earthly relationship most have some familiarity with; our relationship with our earthly fathers.

For a brief moment, let’s take a look at that earthly relationship and let’s say it comes from the standpoint of the most loving, devoted earthly father.  So that earthly father is going to want to provide for his children.  The earthly father is going to want to protect his children.  That earthly father is going to want to see his children grow, physically, mentally and spiritually.  The earthly father is going to want to see his children mature and gain a certain amount of self-sufficiency.  Of course, in this instance the earthly father is going to love his children dearly.  The earthly father knows he will not be on earth forever, so he wants his children to able to live abundantly when he is not there.

So we may have been blessed with a wonderful earthly father or father figure and we might be tempted to look upon, even lovingly, our Heavenly Father based on that earthly example.  To the extent that we do that, is to the extent our vision is skewed and our perception is extremely flawed.

Why?….Well, let’s take a look.  What is crucial to understand is the limitations of one and the complete lack of limitation of the Other.  We must realize that to even attempt a comparison is a very perilous thing to do.  First, earthly fathers have significant limitations at least as it applies to the capabilities of Our Heavenly Father.  While an earthly father may want to protect us; they have little to no power over an earthquake or tornado; earthly father’s can stop a cell from becoming cancerous no matter how much they desire.  Secondly, all earthly fathers have finite resources and power.  Regardless of their wealth and stature, earthly fathers have limited degrees of influence over societal processes like conflict or hatred.  Finally, no earthly father is perfect; his love is going to falter at times.  He will grow weary of doing good for his children or he will expect some return on his investment in his children.

Here’s where our inadequate vision comes into play.  For our Heavenly Father lacks no power to protect us.  All phenomena, all natural processes are under His control.  Second, our Heavenly Father has all resources, all power at His control.  Our Heavenly Father is perfect; His Love is perfect without end.  He will not grow weary or tired, not once of His children.

Finally, there is one huge, overriding difference in the earthly process of being a father and the Heavenly process.  Earthly fathers expect that there will come a time of maturity for their children, where the need of fatherly influence will diminish.  Earthly fathers understand that there will be a time of physical separation at death.

When we look at what Our Heavenly Father intended, it is clear to see that Our Heavenly Father desires that their never be a time that His influence will diminish.  Our Heavenly Father never looks to a time where we do not need Him any longer.  Our Heavenly Father wants nothing to separate us from Him.  At the time prior to the original sin, we were in the garden where, out of love, all was supplied.  Everything was supplied, we were completely safe, the environment was so controlled, so perfect,  that we did not even need clothes.

In a wisdom that I can not comprehend and a plan that I don’t understand, He gave us the ability for self determination.  He gave us the ability to reject Him; and that is exactly what we did.  To our potential eternal doom, we, as earthly children decided to go our own way.  At some point an earthly father would have let us go; would have said goodbye.  Our Heavenly Father instead, gave to us a gift that we could not obtain ourselves.  He gave us salvation, and it cost the life of His Only Begotten Son for us to receive it.

Thus dear sisters and brothers, we should not, we dare not view our Heavenly Father in any aspect of earthly terms.  We must attempt to see Him within the state of Being that He is.  There is only one way that can come about; and oh by the way it doesn’t come from us.  The gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift of the Spirit of God Himself that can dwell within us, is the only way we may gain insight into the true nature of Our Heavenly Father.  With that gift; we can come to the understanding that there is no plan for us to be on our own, there is no desire for separation, that Our Heavenly Father wants to be the all providing, all protecting all loving Father for all time to come.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we are awestruck that You want to be Our Eternal Father and the lengths You are willing to go to accomplish that.  We thank you for the sacrifice and salvation of Your Son Jesus Christ.  Forgive us Heavenly Father, when we become rebellious children, desiring to reject You for own ways.  Give us the gift of the Holy Spirit who will teach us of Your true nature and guide us back to being Your loving children.  We pray in the Name of Jesus Christ.  Amen

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