The first two virtues of a beautiful life, virtue and knowledge, are often competitors in society today. In reality they are joined, but how? How does knowledge stimulate virtue and how does virtue cultivate more knowledge? In other words, how do we get smarter without becoming insulated or arrogant? To link these two virtues we need to practice the Biblical vision of both as expressed in these prayers of Paul.
Of all those who become Christians this year, about one in four will actively pursue this spiritual growth and of those who do, about one in ten will move on to new heights. What the others lack is often a vision and/or a plan. What do you want to be? And how is that going to happen? In this passage, written to new believers in the first century, Peter gives us a vision (v.4) and a plan (v. 5-7) for getting unstuck in our spiritual lives.
When we recognize our identity as God’s special possession, we begin to sense that there is a better way to live in our world. But formation into this other way does not happen by accident or alone. We long for shepherd-elders who have seen suffering and the resurrection power of God. We need connections with those whose lives exemplify the Jesus-centered life.
Peter writes to the Christians in exile, exhorting them to be sober-minded and alert; not just for self-protection, but to see things as they truly are. In this sermon, we’ll examine God’s invitation (through Peter’s words) to the kind of life that keeps us rooted in our own communities and growing toward the Kingdom of God.
In a world filled with suffering, we’re often tempted to go searching for the cause of such trials and hardships. But Peter’s instruction to the first century church encourages looking beyond reasons for why suffering exists and emphasizes the significance of how we respond to such difficulties in this life. Such a perspective change impacts our witness, our ability to cope with life’s challenges, and influences our understanding of the temporal nature of suffering.
Submission is a required and formative action in the Christian journey: first to God, then to one another, and even to the authorities placed in leadership over us in this world. Peter’s instruction for submission to the first-century church was born out of his own experience of being formed through submission as he walked with Christ. Such instruction continues to guide and form us today.
When something happens, like what happened lately, our tendency as exiles is to get so embroiled in the controversy that we forget who we are. Without formally denying our identity – our right to practice our faith – the culture subtly gives us another one. Now more than ever, we must rediscover our narrative, our name and our agenda.
The past few months have been among the most disruptive and uncertain of our lives. We have suffered many losses and from everything we hear, there will be even more. Yet our hope is that in and by these losses we are being perfected and saved for the day when Christ is finally revealed.
On Pentecost, we celebrate the Holy Spirit’s indwelling of the people of God, beginning the Church’s mission to the world. Paul reminds us that we can misunderstand and misuse the gifts of the Spirit, hindering the effectiveness of our mission. While the proverb “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” has generally been accepted by organizations, teams, and even churches, is it possible that in the economy of God, those we perceive as weak might make us stronger?
Everyone wants to go to heaven … but not today! Perhaps it’s because we’ve misjudged it. What if heaven is other than we think? Closer than we think? In the ascension of Jesus everything changes on earth and in heaven. So why do we still stand “gazing into heaven” as though it were some idyllic place far removed from our world and our mission?
In times when the flesh is weak, the Spirit is willing and prays through us, for us, putting language to our confusion, our grief and even our anger. It is here where “the Spirit pleads for us in harmony with God’s will,” and this is why “all things work together for our good.” In the loneliness of suffering, we are more united with God than ever.
In various times, as God decides, the Spirit takes over our faculties and channels himself through us in superhuman ways. In these moments, we accomplish far more than usual and always for the glory of God. While these moments come and go, our daily lives continually prepare us for them.
The same Spirit who led Jesus into the wilderness, then out again is the One who guides us into all truth, always reminding us of what Jesus said and sometimes even more. Indeed, the Holy Spirit is the faculty God has given us for hearing His Voice.
The same Spirit who empowered Jesus as the Son of God, empowers us to be “the children of God.” The “Spirit of holiness (who) appointed the Son of God in power” (Rom. 1:4) also appoints us toward the same end.
When Jesus “breathed onto” his disciples he intended to, not just sustain his ministry but to expand it with, in and through us. Through the Holy Spirit God dwells within the Body of Christ like he dwelled in the humanity of Christ. Through the Holy Spirit we may become, by grace, what Jesus was by nature. It is time for us to live up to that.
We’re in the middle of the two worst weeks, people are worried about the economy, about their families and their jobs. They’re looking for good news. Yet they want more than good news. What they’re craving – and don’t have words for – is Easter and Easter is more than the resurrection.
Palm Sunday is best known as the coronation of Jesus our King. But later that day – after the famous parade – our King’s heart was “troubled” as he confronted a dilemma and a question that confronts us in these worrisome days. What is the dilemma and “what shall we say?”
As disciples, our calling in a time like this is to be an extension of Christ’s own doing and being.
If you could have a private audience with Jesus and ask for anything you wanted, what would you ask for? No, really, with all that’s been happening you’ve got one ask and you’ll probably get it. What would it be? What should it be? Here’s an example of how we might pray in these times.
This has to do with our dis-ease: Do I still believe in wellness; do I think it is possible and do I really want it for myself? What about the change will be most disruptive?