Gardendale Nazarene

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Archives for November 2014 | Pastor's Blog | Gardendale Nazarene

Thanksgiving Reminder

We are less than a week from Thanksgiving. During this time of year, we take the time to remember the things for which we are thankful.

I love this statement to the Corinthians. Paul says, “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus.” Look at this verse. Why does Paul give thanks for the people? In the people he sees the grace of God.

Paul has a perspective of the Christian life that we often miss. When he thinks of the people- he knows their struggles and faults (and the Corinthians had plenty), yet it is the grace of God that shines in his thoughts of the people.

Most of us focus on what we have done or haven’t done. When we think of others, many times we focus on their struggles or faults. This is how the world views others. Paul gives us a strong reminder-Christians focus on Christ and what He has done. What has Christ done? He has given you and your neighbor the grace of God.

This Thanksgiving, may we proclaim with Paul, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1)

On this Thanksgiving, Heather and I thank God for the life that comes from His Son. We echo with Paul our thanksgiving for you “because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus.” We love you and pray for you regularly.

"In the Doing"

One of the great things about this week’s passage is Jesus’ ability to hit everyone's hearts on the same level. I believe that we fall into the same temptation that Jesus’ original audience fell into.

We hear Jesus’ words, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (7:1). Then we think, “I hope ________ is listening to this!” I can imagine that we aren’t the first people to be tempted by this.

Then, we get to verse 12, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”

It is though Jesus can see into our hearts. When we think of the Pharisee culture, we understand their desire to strengthen the Law. When you have someone wanting to strengthen the Law, you also have those who want to relax the Law. Jesus, the Son of the Living God, speaks directly to both groups. At the same time, He speaks through the ages to us today. In Matthew 22:34-40, we hear Jesus echo these words.

Author Scot McKnight writes, “There is nothing complex about this most simple of moral maxims; its difficulty is in the doing, not the knowing.”

Our challenge this week is simple- How do we live lives that turn from the selfishness of our society and turn to the selflessness of Christ? Again, the difficulty is "in the doing, not the knowing."

Philippians 2 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. There, Paul, quotes one of the great hymns of the early church. He knew that living out the selflessness of Christ was difficult. However, in that selflessness, Paul found beauty and life.

I’d like for you to commit to do something with me. What if we memorized Paul’s words together? What if, during the times of selfishness, we had a passage to push to the front of our minds?

Philippians 2:3-11 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,

6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

May God bless you as we seek His life together!

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