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The Simple Joy 072813
Over the past several weeks I’ve had the time to sit and intently read book after book of studies, reflections and discussions of Jesus, the New Testament, the church and our life together as disciples. I’ve read from, in fact I tried to read from, as many different religious viewpoints as I could.
I’ve come away from reading so much with a deep confusion about Christianity, but a clearer walk with Jesus. I realize that I have few hard chiseled ideas or opinions about any of the contrasting approaches to Jesus and Christianity. In fact, I don’t think I could recommend or criticize any particular view about Christianity. From Evangelism, Fundamentals, to Gnosticism and mystic Chrisitanity I don’t think I’m qualified to recommend one view over another . But in a meta-analysis of all together, it seems there is a God, and Jesus beyond the variations humankind sometimes focuses upon. How many times have you met another Christian, and in friendly conversation two disciples will focus upon how their beliefs differ, rather than find the common simple joy we share.
Over all, this leads one to consider a particular doctrine as less important, as less profound and meaningful than it was previously thought. When we recall the history of our church, we could count the thousands that suffered and died as a result of minor doctrinal differences. For instance I may or may not believe that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are three-in-one, or not. But I will not be found killing someone over a difference over this doctrine, or any other. Doctrine is a collection of beliefs and ideas, and they bear discussion, but not violence.
Pray for peace. Read the Bible every day.
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Colossians 2:6-15 [16-19]
The Message (MSG)
20-21 God continued, “The cries of the victims in Sodom and Gomorrah are deafening; the sin of those cities is immense. I’m going down to see for myself, see if what they’re doing is as bad as it sounds. Then I’ll know.”
22 The men set out for Sodom, but Abraham stood in God’s path, blocking his way.
23-25 Abraham confronted him, “Are you serious? Are you planning on getting rid of the good people right along with the bad? What if there are fifty decent people left in the city; will you lump the good with the bad and get rid of the lot? Wouldn’t you spare the city for the sake of those fifty innocents? I can’t believe you’d do that, kill off the good and the bad alike as if there were no difference between them. Doesn’t the Judge of all the Earth judge with justice?”
26 God said, “If I find fifty decent people in the city of Sodom, I’ll spare the place just for them.”
27-28 Abraham came back, “Do I, a mere mortal made from a handful of dirt, dare open my mouth again to my Master? What if the fifty fall short by five—would you destroy the city because of those missing five?”
He said, “I won’t destroy it if there are forty-five.”
29 Abraham spoke up again, “What if you only find forty?”
“Neither will I destroy it if for forty.”
30 He said, “Master, don’t be irritated with me, but what if only thirty are found?”
“No, I won’t do it if I find thirty.”
31 He pushed on, “I know I’m trying your patience, Master, but how about for twenty?”
“I won’t destroy it for twenty.”
32 He wouldn’t quit, “Don’t get angry, Master—this is the last time. What if you only come up with ten?”
“For the sake of only ten, I won’t destroy the city.”
The Message (MSG)
A David Psalm
138 1-3 Thank you! Everything in me says “Thank you!”
Angels listen as I sing my thanks.
I kneel in worship facing your holy temple
and say it again: “Thank you!”
Thank you for your love,
thank you for your faithfulness;
Most holy is your name,
most holy is your Word.
The moment I called out, you stepped in;
you made my life large with strength.
4-6 When they hear what you have to say, God,
all earth’s kings will say “Thank you.”
They’ll sing of what you’ve done:
“How great the glory of God!”
And here’s why: God, high above, sees far below;
no matter the distance, he knows everything about us.
7-8 When I walk into the thick of trouble,
keep me alive in the angry turmoil.
With one hand
strike my foes,
With your other hand
Finish what you started in me, God.
Your love is eternal—don’t quit on me now.
The Message (MSG)
From the Shadows to the Substance
6-7 My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.
8-10 Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But that’s not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything.
11-15 Entering into this fullness is not something you figure out or achieve. It’s not a matter of being circumcised or keeping a long list of laws. No, you’re already in—insiders—not through some secretive initiation rite but rather through what Christ has already gone through for you, destroying the power of sin. If it’s an initiation ritual you’re after, you’ve already been through it by submitting to baptism. Going under the water was a burial of your old life; coming up out of it was a resurrection, God raising you from the dead as he did Christ. When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive—right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets.
16-17 So don’t put up with anyone pressuring you in details of diet, worship services, or holy days. All those things are mere shadows cast before what was to come; the substance is Christ.
18-19 Don’t tolerate people who try to run your life, ordering you to bow and scrape, insisting that you join their obsession with angels and that you seek out visions. They’re a lot of hot air, that’s all they are. They’re completely out of touch with the source of life, Christ, who puts us together in one piece, whose very breath and blood flow through us. He is the Head and we are the body. We can grow up healthy in God only as he nourishes us.
The Message (MSG)
Ask for What You Need
11 One day he was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said, “Master, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”
2-4 So he said, “When you pray, say,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.”
5-6 Then he said, “Imagine what would happen if you went to a friend in the middle of the night and said, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. An old friend traveling through just showed up, and I don’t have a thing on hand.’
7 “The friend answers from his bed, ‘Don’t bother me. The door’s locked; my children are all down for the night; I can’t get up to give you anything.’
8 “But let me tell you, even if he won’t get up because he’s a friend, if you stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbors, he’ll finally get up and get you whatever you need.
9 “Here’s what I’m saying:
Ask and you’ll get;
Seek and you’ll find;
Knock and the door will open.
10-13 “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing—you’re at least decent to your own children. And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?”