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August 20, 2017

Let us be the BEST we have ever been as 2017 mighty men!


“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.'”  (Philippians 1. 21)


I was brought back around to this passage of God’s Word from a different angle.  In truth, I was surprised as this scripture spoke in my head.  I am not sure why I should be surprised.  God knew it was needed for today’s conversation after worship.  He knew I needed to be prepared for it so that a further connection could be made.  Indeed, God is fully aware of what we need.  He doesn’t respond to our need reactively.  He responds proactively.  We are the ones who spend more time reacting to the events we experience in the world.  As mighty men of God we need to spend more time preparing ourselves and to be prepared by God through His Holy Spirit given to us.  This is what helps to identify us as God’s mighty men.  Instead of living in the past or living in spite of our past, we should spend each day with the eye to “our” future.  Remember that while God calls us as individuals, He sees us as a body of believers empowered by faith and motivated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So, let me take this moment to share that “wow, that is what it means, too?” experience I had today.  During the lesson today the Holy Spirit prompted me to think upon Jesus’ teaching to the disciples in the upper room before His arrest, conviction and crucifixion.  In that teaching, Jesus declared His oneness with God and man.  He spoke boldly that He and the Father were one just as He and the disciples were one.  The logical and spiritual extension of this declaration is that we and the Father are one.  We do not stand alone before God.  Christ stands with us and so, too, does our band of brothers.  It doesn’t mean that we become invisible to God in light of the many.  It does mean that we each are accountable before God for our part serving as a member of the Body of Christ.

Mighty men, if we live apart from Christ then we are sure to experience the everlasting death.  Even though Christ died for all our sins so that we may experience eternal life as a promised reality, it still depends on each person to accept that truth, that gift and that opportunity to share love with both the gift and the truth.  Jesus did that expressly in His ministry which lead up to and through His arrest, conviction and crucifixion.  Think about it.  We are called to be one in the Body of Christ with Christ as our head.  The Christ is Messiah.  The Church is the messianic expression of the Kingdom of God on earth.  When we become a part of the Church, the body of Christ, we are participating in the messianic community.  Step away from that picture for a moment and see a different facet of what Paul declared as Jesus had lived out.

John reminds us of Jesus’ words “I did not come into the world to condemn the world but that through me all the world can be saved.”  We also know that Jesus did not invite the disciples and followers to become one in the body of Jesus.  That would be an impossibility (as perhaps Nicodemus was to learn about being reborn.)  We are not born into the old body.  We are in a new body.  It is not the body of Jesus but rather the body of Christ.  So, then Jesus was the body of God (fully man and fully God) with God as His head.  He could be Messiah in no other way.  He could do it because He had no sin.  He was, in a manner of speaking, the epitome of the Temple.  Those who worshipped God served the Temple and the God who was the head of it.  But, Jewish followers had a difficult time keeping this concept a reality.  Why?  Because they were sinners fallen short of the glory of God.  The temple was not supposed to be reflection of God but a projection.  They failed miserably as do we if we do not have Jesus as the Christ.

It was there that the Spirit brought to mind Paul’s admonition to the mighty men of Philippi “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”  We may not be able to choose the way in which we will die.  However, we can certainly choose the way in which we will live.  Choosing to live in Christ transforms death from a loss to a gain, a liability to an asset, from a defeat to a win.  How would we characterize our lives so far?  Do we measure by what we haven’t done or by what we have done.  Do we dwell on what could have been or what has been and is yet to be?  Do we define ourselves by the standards of the world corrupted by sin or by the kingdom empowered by righteousness?

Mighty men, let us keep our perspective on Jesus (the man of God) Christ (the righteousness of God).  It is as a man born in the world that we exist but not as man alone.  It is as one in Christ born into the Kingdom of God that we exist.  The two are as one because that is the resurrected reality for all believers.  And, I suppose now with a smile, that it is not just the “two are one” but “three in one”- the trinity of a mighty man in the world just as Christ is “three in one: Father, Son and Holy Spirit”- the Holy Trinity.

* Let’s review the story of our lives and strengthen it with the witness of our faith in Christ and God’s love for us through Christ.

PRAYER CONCERNS: (Needs of God’s mighty men that will be answered out of faith, hope and love)

* For those leading God’s people in worship, praise and service today
* For the victims and the families of the victims of this latest rash of killings across the world that they may have peace and comfort in their time of grief
* For Louisville, Kentuckiana, Goodwill, NECC (and their service to the education community of 31 campuses)  and the people of Nicaragua
* For the needs of my family near and far and our friends healing, reconciliation and wisdom- especially for Tom Jensen; for needs of my family mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually; wisdom to know the truth and relate it adequately; for guidance in a difficult financial situation and wise counsel in seeking the proper doctor to diagnose my condition

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* We have a loving God who speaks to us in all seasons of life reminding us we should do the same to Him
* God continues to provide prosperity at 5226 as I trust Him in so doing and give thanks praying for sufficient and proficient employees and the wisdom to meld a team spirit by staying humble before God and co-workers
* God is preparing us for our next ministry with current conditions to learn to walk more humbly and in peace; has given us relief in my health
* God is good all the time and all the time God is good- even when we cannot see it!

ABIDING IN PRAYER: Father, Your love is so amazing.  By Your love we are changed from a loss to a gain, from a defeat to a glory.   With Your love we go now into the world to share the truth that can set all men free.  Let this witness be powerful and transforming, affirming and empowering in the name of Jesus by whom we pray, live and worship here on earth as it is in Heaven. AMEN.

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