7 He said to them, “It isn’t for you to know times or seasons which the Father has set within his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. You will be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth.”
9 When he had said these things, as they were looking, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 While they were looking steadfastly into the sky as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white clothing, 11 who also said, “You men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? [“] - Acts 1:7-11a (WEB)
We many times like to remember the “Good Old Days.”. High School reunions and family gatherings also bring out the old stories. Now I do believe that we need to remember the stories and events of yesteryear (I do read a lot of history), but the problem is if we want to live in the past and not today.
The people of Galilee were looking up, probably remembering the good times, with Jesus. It was the “two men” in white, that reminded them that Jesus told them to “witness to me” throughout the world. What are you doing, looking up for Jesus to return and remembering the “good old days”, or going out into the world as a witness to the power and love of Christ.
15 But when the children of Israel cried to Yahweh, Yahweh raised up a savior for them - Judges 3:15a (WEB)
I have been reading the Book of Judges, as part of my daily scripture readings, and I noticed a pattern in the relationship of Israel with God. First, the people “did that which was evil.” Second, God sends some enemy against them, like the Ammmonites or the Amalekites. Third, the people of Israel cry for help, God hears the Israelites cry for help to God. And finally, God sends some one like Deborah, Gideon, or Samson to lead them.
Over and over, the pattern repeats itself, the people sin, their are punished, they cry for repentance, and God saves them. God always sent someone to save them. God loved them and God was willing to forgive them.
Jesus tells us that we should forgive each other “... seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22, WEB). If we are to do this, think how many times God is willing to forgive each of us. God heard our pleas and sent His Son Jesus, to save us. What a great God we worship, that if we keep failing and repenting, we have a God that still loves us and a God that still saves, through His Son, Jesus Christ.
He [Jesus] said to them, “Why are you so afraid? How is it that you have no faith?” - Mark 4:40 (WEB)
As I write this, General Conference 2019 is over. The conference to unite the United Methodist Church seems to have divided us even more. From the priority votes, it looks like to me that we were much more interested in our pensions and property, than finding a way to live together as brothers and sisters in Christ (I maybe too hard on the delegates). I do not know what is going to happen within the denomination, but I do know that God is in control. As the storms of life surround us, we do not need to be afraid, we need the faith that God is there for each of us. I do not know what the future of the United Methodist Church is, but I do know that God's Church will continue on and that the love proclaimed by Jesus will continued to be proclaimed throughout the world.
God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way. God relented of the disaster which he said he would do to them, and he didn’t do it. - Jonah 3:10 (WEB)
Most people remember Jonah as the man that was swallowed by a big fish, yet the story does not end there. Jonah goes on to Nineveh, to deliver God's warning, and the people (and animals) respond to God's message and show signs of repentance. God's response to the people was to not destroy the city and the people were saved.
God is still willing to show forgiveness to us when we sin. When we turn back towards God, He is always willing to forgive us and show us the mercy, that we do not deserve. That is the reason that He gave us His Son Jesus! The people of Nineveh know that forgiveness, and so can you, by turning away from our sins and accepting the power over sin that Jesus Christ has to offer.
["] You believe that God is one. You do well. The demons also believe, and shudder.” - James 2:19 (WEB)
Recently I have been thinking about the Christian faith, in the world today. I heard on a Christian radio station the host questioning if another Christian leader was a “heretic” because they had a different stance on the issue of homosexuality. I do not want to have a discussion on this issue in this blog, but the United Methodist Church will have these discussions in February, yet it got me thinking about what is a Christian?
Jesus tells us “that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3 16, WEB) and Paul in Romans tells us that it is faith in God that saves us. Yet James says that even the demons “believe” in one God, yet they are far from being Christian. The demons have seen the power of Christ (remember the pigs and the cliff), yet they do not have faith in the saving power of God.
So who is a Christian? To me, a Christian is anyone who believes in the saving power of Jesus Christ and has the faith to live a life in the calling of Jesus, to us, to follow Him.