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Archive for January, 2019

This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy. We are writing to God’s holy people in Colosse, Don Pedro, Coulterville, and La Grange, who are faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 1:1-2; 3:12-17 (NLT2, italics mine)

The church, our church, the Lake Don Pedro Baptist Church, and any other church is meant to be God’s/Christ’s community within the community where it is found. This community within the community is comprised of faithful brothers and sisters in Christ, women, men, children, and young people whom God has chosen to love and called to be holy.

This community, assembly, fellowship, and family of followers of Jesus, of Christians, is meant to be a living example of Jesus and of what God envisions for all human community. Thus we are meant to be committed to one another and clothe (our clothes are what others get to see, and we purposely put them on) ourselves with:

  • Tenderhearted mercy
  • Kindness
  • Humility
  • Gentleness
  • Patience
  • Making allowance for each other’s faults – being real
  • Forgiving one another as Christ forgave us
  • Loving each other
  • Having the peace of Christ rule us – Seeking harmony, unity, and peace
  • Always seeing ourselves to be vitally connected to other believers
  • Gratefulness, thankfulness
  • Focused on Christ and the Gospel
  • Teaching, counseling, helping each other
  • Praising, singing, worshipping
  • Doing all to the glory of God

Can you imagine a community where these are the consistent practice, the continual focus? It is nothing short of glorious, it’s an oasis, it is a slice of heaven. But we have to learn them, we have to internalize them, commit ourselves to them because they do not come naturally to us. So, if you claim to be a follower of Jesus then ask yourself, “How committed am I to God’s community, Jesus’ body, the church?” and, “How committed am I to make God’s community in my community to be a shining example of the very life of Jesus?”

Depending on your answers above, and according to the scriptures at the top of this pastor’s note, what steps do you need to take in regard to God’s community, Jesus’ church?

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

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Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:36 (NIV)

Who should we be merciful to? Before telling his disciples to be merciful he gave them and us a list (Luke 6:27-35) that includes our enemies, those who hate, curse, mistreat, abuse and hurt us, those who take from us, ask of us and want to borrow from us. If you ask me, those are the people who make me less merciful, who make me think twice about being compassionate, or not think of it at all. Depending on what they have done to me, inflicted on me, or how they have taken advantage of me, the last thing I want to be is merciful. Chances are, that if you can read this, you have been hurt, burnt, and used. Being told to be merciful to those who did that to us feels like being told to be a sucker, an enabler, to be someone who doesn’t learn from experience. And yet, against all our possible objections, apprehensions, fears and feelings Jesus commands us to be merciful like God the Father. How do we do that?

1. Ruminate on the Father’s mercy. Contemplate how vast, how multifaceted, how indiscriminate, how continual, constant and eternal God’s mercies are. Consider the ultimate expression of God the Father’s mercy in and through his Son Jesus Christ (for more detail read part 1 to this pastor’s note). Ruminating on, contemplating God’s mercy is like looking at an inspiring picture that makes you go, “Wow,” and wish you were there. Pictures like that are good to have on the walls of our heart and mind.

2. Remember when you needed mercy. Everyone has needed mercy sometime during their lifetime, and most likely many many times. Remember a time when you had to ask for help, for assistance, for forgiveness, for another chance, or maybe you were merely hoping that someone would see and respond to your need. We are much humbler when we need mercy and we will be much more empathetic when we remember the times we were in those shoes. The Apostle Paul, for whom mercy wasn’t always a strength, remembered and wrote, “This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all (how I needed mercy). But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life” 1 Timothy 1:15-16 (NLT2, parenthesis mine).

3. Recall when you received mercy. It is one thing to ask, hope, and wish for mercy but it’s quite another to actually receive it, Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around” Proverbs 13:12 (MSG). Recall the joy, the relief, the gratitude you felt when you were on the receiving end of mercy.

4. Recognize and seize opportunities you have to be merciful. God doesn’t tell us to merciful and then not give us opportunities to be merciful. Before Jesus said “be merciful,” he already had told his disciples, Do to others as you would have them do to you,” or as Eugene Peterson paraphrases it, Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them!” Luke 6:31 NIV &MSG. Think about how many “little” opportunities to be merciful daily come your way. I suspect, the better we become at seizing the small mercy moments the better we will be at the larger and more challenging ones.

Let’s go practice.

To God be all glory, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:36 (NIV)

Some things are easier to be than others. It is easier to be ignorant than to be informed, to be thoughtless than to be thoughtful, to be foolish than to be wise, to be undisciplined than to be disciplined, to be nasty than to be kind, to be stingy than to be generous, to be unforgiving than to be forgiving, to be critical than to be caring, to be watching than to be involved, to be cynical than to be doing good, to be merciless than to be merciful. But Christ never told his followers to settle for what comes easier but he was persistent in commanding and encouraging them to pursue that which better, to reach for the best, to emulate God the Father, to model their lives after himself.

It is easier to practice a little mercy here and there, to be generous every now and then, to be kind sometimes … than it is to be merciful … in our very being, in our core, as part of our character, like the Father.

So, what do we know about the mercy of the Father, and how can we become and be merciful like him?

God’s mercy is vast, like an immense deep sea. Scripture speaks of his mercies being great, extending over all his works (Psalm 119:156, 145:9), and King David chose to be judged by God rather than men because he was certain of God’s vast mercy (2 Samuel 24:14).

God’s mercy is also multifaceted. Jeremiah the prophet found comfort and hope in the midst of carnage and destruction because he remembered that The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23,ESV), and the Apostle Paul concurred when he encouraged the Corinthians that to bless God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all of our affliction (2 Corinthians 1:3, ESV).

God’s mercy is indiscriminate, Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful (Luke 6:35-36 ESV).

God’s mercy is continual, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23,ESV). Every sunrise and every rainstorm (Matthew 5:45) remind us that God’s mercy is both inexhaustible and that it gets up every morning.

God’s mercy finds its ultimate expression in Jesus Christ, All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay (1 Peter 1:3-4 (NLT2).

And just like that, I have run out of space for this pastor’s note, I guess you will have to wait till next week for some thoughts on, “How can we merciful like the Father?” But, I suspect that even before you get that p-note will have occasions and opportunities to be merciful. So, how can what you just learned about God’s mercy help you with that?

To God be all glory. Love you, pastor Hans

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Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:36 (NIV)

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Matthew 5:7 (NIV)

In order to be numbered among the merciful, you have to be merciful. But why should we want to be merciful in the first place? First of all, because God the Father and Jesus Christ are merciful, but also because we reap what we sow, and because a merciless world is a terrible world to live in and a merciless life is a terrible life to live.

My earliest memory of being merciless is in Kindergarten on a warm early summer morning that had us wearing shorts. We, the other bullies and I, had mentally and socially challenged Heinzi cornered in the corner of the blind spot of the play yard. On one side of the corner was the wall of the building, the other side was a fence, and the entire corner was overgrown with tall sting nettles. Sting nettles are nasty plants with leaves that have poisonous barbs at the edges of their leaves that burn like bee stings and leave nasty welts. “I’m burning! I burning!” Heinzi cried as he tried to escape but was sent back tumbling into the nettles again and again. He finally just gave up and sat there weeping, unable to comprehend why? We wandered off, laughing, but inside I knew it was wrong, I felt wicked without knowing the word. I should’ve gone back to help Heinzi, but I didn’t, I lacked the courage. And, I wish it was my only memory of being merciless, but sadly and shamefully it isn’t.

Heinzi never told on us, which is surprising because Heinzi told everything. Besides what was going on in our own consciences we suffered no consequences. It bothered me so much I left the bully club of five-year-olds and the picture of the incident still hangs on the main wall of my memory. Somehow, Heinzi and I became friends, which says more about him than it says about me. Somehow, this little boy whom we deemed inferior and weak met my mercilessness with mercy, with forgiveness, and a willingness to try again and be friends. It wasn’t until many years later that I figured out that whether he knew it or not he was being like “Our Father,” who told us through Christ, “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” Luke 6:35-36 (ESV). Somehow, when I think if this evil I was part of in the corner of the Kindergarten yard I think of Christ, who in dying agony, unspeakable injustice and cruelty, and with one of his last breaths looked down at mocking, jeering, merciless crowd and with compassion and mercy said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” Luke 23:34 (NIV).

2019 needs more mercy not less, which means it needs more of us to be “merciful,” to act merciful like God the Father and Christ, like Heinzi weeping in the sting nettles.

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

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