Good News

01
Aug

Verse of the Month — August 2016

Clothing

Above all, clothe yourselves with love,

which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

 — Colossians 3:14,  NRSV

31
Jul

Rich Toward God

12:13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.”
12:14 But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?
12:15 And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.
12:16 Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly.
12:17 And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’
12:18 Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
12:19 And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’
12:20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’
12:21 So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.

Rich toward God

Rich Toward God:  Telling Jesus what to do? (13)

The setting: Jesus has been teaching, healing, feeding the hungry, and has most recently been instructing the people using parables.  He is being recognized throughout the countryside as one who speaks as someone who has authority. So it’s only natural for there to be people in the crowd who have a pretty good idea how he should use his influence.
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.”
How easy it is to ask the Lord (or even instruct him) to tell someone else to do the right thing!  In our search for justice, especially, everyone seems to know what someone else ought to do, and our prayers sometimes take the shape of instructions on who should be told to do what. But Jesus rejects the role of judge and arbiter.

Rich Toward God:  Focus on the motives (15)

And he said to them,
Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.
Both brothers get the same instruction, and the crowd also gets to hear it. We who are so good at watching one another’s behavior are called upon to watch our own heart. In Proverbs it says, “Guard your heart above all things, for out of it flow the issues of life.”

Rich Toward God:  A Parable (16-20)

The master storyteller begins by speaking of someone who had a plan and a purpose for himself: to accumulate wealth and see to his own future comfort. Notice how often words like “I” and “my” show up in this man’s self-talk.
12:18 Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
He’s not lazy; he has ambition, an ambition focused on a single goal.
12:19 And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’
What he didn’t know was that he was saving up for the wrong purpose. All his wealth is going to stay where he put it.

Rich Toward God:  Where is your wealth?

 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’

Rich Toward God:  Rich toward God

 So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
In the subsequent verses, Jesus expands on how we can be rich toward God.  First by not concerning ourselves with the daily needs of food and clothing; not that we don’t work for them, but that they need not be our main concern, as God who loves us provides these things. Next by investing in things that last: relationships, the well-being of others, peace and justice for the next generation.  “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
29
Jul

In Memoriam

Louella (Peggy) Myers Shamblin went home to be with the Lord on July 27, 2016 at the Hospice of Charles County.

24
Jul

Alive With Christ

Alive With Christ

2:6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him,
2:7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ.
2:9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,
2:10 and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority.
2:11 In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ;
2:12 when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
2:13 And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses,
2:14 erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross.
2:15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.
2:16 Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths.
2:17 These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
2:18 Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking,
2:19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God.

Alive With Christ:  Receiving & walking (6)

 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him,

Alive With Christ:  Rooted, built, established (7)

 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Alive With Christ:  Emptiness (8)

 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ.

Alive With Christ:  Fullness (9-10)

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority.

Alive With Christ:   In Him (11-15)

 In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ;
2:13 And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses,

Alive With Christ: In Him (11-15)

2:12 when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
2:14 erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross.
2:15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.

Alive With Christ:   Christ the Substance

2:16 Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths.
2:17 These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
17
Jul

Are We All Martha?

Are We All Martha?   Luke 10:38-42

10:38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.
10:39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying.
10:40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.”
10:41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things;
10:42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Are We All Martha?  Martha Welcomed Jesus

Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.

Are We All Martha?  What about Mary? (39)

She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying.

Are We All Martha?  “Lord, do you not care?”  (40)

  But Martha was distracted by her many tasks;
so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself?

Are We All Martha?  Tell her… (40)

  But Martha was distracted by her many tasks;
so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself?
Tell her then to help me.”

Are We All Martha?  The Lord’s Answer

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things;

Are We All Martha? One thing is needed (42)

 there is need of only one thing.
Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Are We All Martha?  Isaiah 28:9-12

Whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message?
… for it is precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little and there a little…
… to whom he said, “This is rest; give rest to the weary; and this is repose”; yet they would not hear.

Are We All Martha?  One Thing is Needful

  “Mary has chosen the better part”
10
Jul

Who Is My Neighbor?

Who is my Neighbor?

Luke 10:25-37
10:25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
10:26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”
10:27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
10:28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
10:29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
10:30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.
10:31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
10:32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
10:33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.
10:34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
10:35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’
10:36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”
10:37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Who Is My Neighbor?  A Test Question (25)

 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus.
“Teacher,”
he said,
“what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Who Is My Neighbor?:  The Scripture Test (26)

 He said to him,
“What is written in the law? What do you read there?”

Who Is My Neighbor?  The Right Answer (27-28)

 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

Who Is My Neighbor?  The Wrong Question (29)

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus,
“And who is my neighbor?”

Who Is My Neighbor?   Priests, Levites, and Samaritans (30-35)

 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.

Who Is My Neighbor?  A Shocking Example

Who were the Samaritans?

Who Is My Neighbor?  The Right Question (36)

  “Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”

Who Is My Neighbor?  Do Likewise (37)

He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
03
Jul

The Law of Christ

The Law of Christ:  Galatians 6:1-16

6:1 My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted.
6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
6:3 For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves.
6:4 All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor’s work, will become a cause for pride.
6:5 For all must carry their own loads.
6:6 Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher.
6:7 Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.
6:8 If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit.
6:9 So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up.
6:10 So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.
6:11 See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand!
6:12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised–only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
6:13 Even the circumcised do not themselves obey the law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast about your flesh.
6:14 May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
6:15 For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything!
6:16 As for those who will follow this rule–peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

The Law of Christ:  6:1. How to Restore a Person

My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted.
 Restoration is high on Paul’s priority list. Note what he does not say to do with someone caught in a transgression:  separate them, put them on probation, point out the problem to others. An evidence of the presence of the Spirit in our lives will be that we also will make restoration a priority.
 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
The law of Christ is Paul’s shorthand way of referring to the principle of redemptive love established at the Cross. As God’s representative on earth he suffered what we suffer.  Likewise a sign of a spiritual person  today is the willingness to pick up a part of someone’s load, to lift another up rather than put oneself forward.

The Law of Christ:   Know Yourself

6:3 For if anyone who is nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves.
6:4 Each must test their own work; then that work, rather than the neighbor’s work, will become a cause for pride.
6:5 For each must carry his own load.
 If this statement did not immediately follow the  one before it, we might easily accuse Paul of being inconsistent.  But it is those fully engaged in taking responsibility for themselves (bearing their own load) who have the capacity also to lift up someone else. It’s a strange thing, too, but worth noting, that all our loads seem lighter when we share them. No one is called upon to impose his own burden on someone else; all the initiative here flows in the other direction.

The Law of Christ:  Flesh versus Spirit (7-8)

 6:7 Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.
6:8 If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit.
 To sow to the flesh is to make ease, comfort, wealth and advantage a priority and a driving force in one’s decisions.  To sow to the Spirit is to participate with God in his care for the world, forgiving sin, healing, and lifting up the fallen.

The Law of Christ:  Keep going! (9-10)

6:9 So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up.
6:10 So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.
 Persistence and consistence is a hallmark of the spiritual life. The real work is not done when the limelight is on.

The Law of Christ:  Bragging rights?

6:14 May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
6:15 For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything!
 Some of those whose efforts Paul was opposing wanted to impose religious, nationalistic and cultural requirements on those who had come to Christ. These, however, are not the point; Paul’s desire is to participate with God in the work of the Cross, on behalf of a suffering world, to create a new reality, what he  calls here a new creation.

The Law of Christ:   Paul’s Last Word

 6:16 As for those who will follow this rule – peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
6:17b I carry the marks of the Lord Jesus on my body.
01
Jul

Verse of the Month — July 2016

Reconciliation

19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

—  Colossians 1:19-20, nrsv

26
Jun

Freedom

Galatians 5:1, 13-25
5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
5:13 For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another.
5:14 For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
5:15 If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.
5:16 Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.
5:17 For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want.
5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law.
5:19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness,
5:20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions,
5:21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
5:22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,
5:23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.
5:24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
5:25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.

Freedom In Christ:  Galatians 5:1, 13-25

For freedom Christ has set us free.
 Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Freedom In Christ:  Freedom Expressed through Love

5:13 For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another.
5:14 For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
5:15 If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

Freedom In Christ:  Flesh versus Spirit (16-18)

 5:16 Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.
5:17 For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want.
5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law.

Freedom In Christ:  Works of the Flesh (19-21)

5:19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness,
5:20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions,
5:21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Freedom In Christ:  Fruit of the Spirit (22-23)

5:22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,
5:23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.

Freedom In Christ: What motivates us?

5:24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
5:25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
19
Jun

Growing Up

Growing Up:  Galatians 3:23-29

Galatians 3:23-29
3:23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed.
3:24 Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith.
3:25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian,
3:26 for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.
3:27 As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
3:28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
3:29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

Growing Up: Law and grace

As we saw last week, Paul is alarmed that the churches in Galatia seem to be abandoning the gospel of Christ for “another gospel, which is no gospel” – the idea that following the Law will bring a fuller salvation than can be obtained through faith in Christ.  He has proceeded to draw distinctions between law and grace, an has now begun to consider a possible objection which, if raised, would distort what he is trying to say.  So, to clarify:
Is the law then opposed to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could have made alive, then righteousness would indeed come through the law. (Galatians 3:21)

Growing Up:  Our Disciplinarian (Galatians 3:23-24)

In the passage below, the KJV renders the word “schoolmaster.”  Our word, “disciplinarian” carries the meaning more precisely; this being Father’s Day, we can envision a strict dad who enforces discipline upon the children he loves, for their safety and protection, even if they don’t understand the reasons why or raise objections.
3:23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed.
3:24 Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith
Even the law as accurately and simply understood, summarized by Paul in this very letter (Galatians 5:14), can only point out to us our shortcomings; it can’t actually empower us to do what it requires.  Only a living faith, which establishes a living relationship with the Father, can do that.

Growing Up: Children through Faith (25-26)

Children don’t stay in school forever; nor do they stay under the father’s strict discipline forever.  A person in such a situation has no real responsibility, except to do what he or she is told; it is the disciplinarian who is responsible.  However, God wants responsible heirs, not just blindly obedient charges.
3:25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian,
3:26 for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.
The word “children” in here is actually “sons”, which carries with it in the context of the Roman Empire specific legal meaning. A son had the legal right of inheritance, to take responsibility for his father’s household.  That he calls them ALL “sons” means this is not a specifically masculine descriptor (hence the choice of our modern translators for a gender-neutral equivalent) but it does carry the connotation, not of a dependent child but of a responsible adult heir; Paul expands on this idea in chapter 4.

Growing Up:  Clothed with Christ (27)

3:27 As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
The responsible adult heir takes on the characteristics of the head of the household, and can thus be entrusted to make decisions on behalf of that household.

Growing Up: The Consequences of Faith (28)

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
This verse spells out clearly that our identity in Christ, and that has clear and wide-ranging social implications, breaking down entrenched barriers and distinctions.  There is no “identity” that is not superseded by our identification with him. It is “who we are.”  We no longer belong in categories that separate us from one another: “all of you” are one in Christ Jesus.  All means all.

Growing Up: Abraham’s Offspring (29)

And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
The promise to Abraham: you will be a blessing, and in you every family on earth will be blessed. (Genesis 12:2-3)
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