Sunday, November 18, 2018
God has implanted within us original feelings of reverence, of gratitude, of kindness, and of love. He freely grants us all that we need, and more, to love both Him and others, then asks us to use these gifts.
If we revere God, we will conform our lives to God's moral commandments, which lead us to both gratitude, and holiness.
If we live lives of gratitude for all that God has given us, we live in unity with God and with others.
If we are kind to others, we model and grow into the life that God wishes us to have.
If we love God with all that we have within us, God assures us that our time with Him is eternal.
God has chosen and sent Jesus as a spokesman to call us to bring out these gifts from within us, and let all of them blossom in our lives. When we act upon them, they blossom also in the lives of others.
We are never left without the God, Whom Jesus calls "Father." The God of Jesus, and for us, is truly a Father who cares for His children.
The Wisdom of God is always available, at the end of a prayer to our Heavenly Father. Whenever we lack wisdom, God freely grants more of it to us. God’s wisdom can be found in the teachings of the Hebrew Prophets and in the words and example of Jesus. Wisdom is found in the example set by those who are seeking holiness today.
Our souls find refreshment in God, and are renewed by His eternal presence. We can stand in God’s presence at any time, in any place. When we walk with God in our darkest hour, He comforts us.
An attitude of prayer, gratitude and reverence puts us before the Throne of God wherever we are. No priest, no building, no ritual is required for us to have God embrace us daily.
If God did not love us and want us to become Spiritually Complete, He would not have sent us Prophets, would not have guided us with their words, and would not offer to grant us unending Wisdom whenever we asked for it.
Wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of God’s will all come from God, as do love and the path of Good Works.
God's wisdom is fully embodied in the message life and death of Jesus, who gives us a complete and perfect example of a life lived fully for God.
Jesus, a man like us, grew in wisdom and stature, prayed consistently to his God, and did not stray from God's commandments. Jesus challenged others to live just as he lived. That we may take up Jesus’ challenge and accomplish it is the GOOD NEWS of the Gospel.
We are weak, and grow tired, and often feel like giving up. But if we keep our eyes focused on the example of Jesus, and the love of God, we will have all we need to spiritually grow and flourish.
God surely doesn't give up on US, weak as we are. God granted us strong spirits, gave us the example of Jesus, and gives ongoing strength and Wisdom when we ask Him for more.
So let us give back in gratitude all we have been given, and let us to continue striving towards Spiritual completeness. We must not give up serving God and living as He intends us to live!
Sunday, November 11, 2018
Jesus, in the establishment of his religion, did not force his followers to accept him. He taught every essential religious truth, made laws for their behavior, and spoke to them with persuasive words.
He then left them to act freely, so the happiness of his disciples might be the reward of obedience, which flows from an enlightened mind and a teachable attitude.
Our Master exhibited the clearest proof of a divine mission. By his life, he displayed the moral worth of his character. He called on his followers to examine his doctrines, to reflect on his works, and to weigh the actions of his life; and for themselves receive his words, obey his commands, and rely on his promises.
Jesus recognized powers in us to judge the evidence on which his religion is founded, and to perceive that his instructions conformed to the unchangeable laws of truth. A number of important inferences may be drawn from this appeal of our Master to the human mind. One is that religion is a rational and voluntary service.
God has given us the attributes of reason and liberty. These make us the subject of a moral government, and make us capable of virtuous action. Take away these abilities, and we cease to be subject to reward or punishment.
To make any course of action good, in a moral sense, an agent must be conscious of duty, and have the ability and power to do it.
Actions in which the will of the agent have no place have no virtuous properties; and doing those actions cannot be called "moral." The way in which the human mind is used determines our moral character. Our actions create the morality of human conduct.
Having the Reason to distinguish good from evil, and the liberty to choose the one and refuse the other, make us capable of moral conduct and moral self-government. If our freedom and agency is taken away, we are no better than animals, or we become like mere machines.
It is the duty of human beings to enlighten their minds about religion. To act rationally and freely in the important aspects of our faith, we must know its foundation, and learn its essential truths and duties.
(Adapted from a sermon by Rev. Aaron Bancroft)
Sunday, November 4, 2018
In his ministry, Jesus challenged all those around him.
He challenged the religious authorities who led a faith of empty ritual and mindless words to instead embrace an authentic faith of love and devotion.
He challenged the wealthy to give up the idol of money.
He challenged those who would exclude the weak, the poor, the “outcast” and the outsider to be fully inclusive, because God loves all people equally. (Luke 4:12-13)
And Jesus challenged average people to “come, follow me,” and change the world with their works of Righteousness. (Matt. 4:19)
Jesus’ teachings, when seen as the core of his ministry, challenge us today, as well.
In fact, the Good News that Jesus preached is nothing but a challenge to our comfortable lives. It challenges the lazy faith which is based on mere words and devoid of love of others or Good Works on their behalf.
It’s a challenge to us all, individually, to begin to reach our full potential, by living the way God wishes us to live – lives of selfless service and love.
The words, life, teachings and death of our Master, Jesus, challenge us to do, to act, to follow, to serve, to be better, to do more, to try harder, to be humble, yet Righteousness, to serve God not money, to lose ourselves, but gain eternity.
Jesus preached to challenge us, and calls us today to live as examples in his name. As God’s chosen Spokesman, Jesus authoritatively calls us to take up his challenge and to follow his example. (John 13:15; 14:12)
We are called by Jesus to seek and do Good, in order to advance God’s Kingdom on this earth.
Jesus lived, taught and died as a pure moral example for us, so that we should follow him and be made perfect in Righteousness. We do this with God’s help and a reliance on God’s holy Spirit.
And we are required, on this journey of Faith, to always seek God's forgiveness for our faults and failures as we strive towards the perfect expression of Righteousness God's Anointed Son, Jesus, has modeled for us.
We must seek to follow Jesus in ALL his teachings – because Jesus followed God in ALL things, and said we could do all that he had done. (John 8:29; 12:50; 13:15; 1 John 2:6)
We are called to show by our ACTS that we are heeding his call, and are taking up his challenge – not in a prideful way, but in a way that is pleasing to God.
Jesus clearly calls us to an active Faith - a Faith that Works. His teachings, his Gospel, is a challenge worth accepting and worth LIVING, because it leads to directly to a spiritually complete life and, God willing, to eternal life with our Creator.
Jesus calls us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30.) That’s complete and total love, not just lip service or weak emotionalism.
Jesus calls us to love each other, our neighbors, with the same zeal with which we love God – a complete and total love. (Mark 12:31)
Jesus calls us to deny ourselves take up our cross and follow him. (Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23.) We are to be “other-centered,” not focused on Self.
Jesus calls on us to do the will of the Father – His God and our God, the Creator of all that is. (Matt. 12:50; John 5:30) Mere words and vain professions are NOT enough to ensure eternity with God (Matt. 7:21.)
Jesus calls on us to forgive others, and makes this duty a condition of being forgiven by God (Matt. 6:15-16.)
Jesus calls on us to let our Good Deeds shine like lights in this world, so that others will see by that light the goodness and love of our Father and Creator, which He has placed within us all. (Matt. 5:15-16)
And Jesus calls on us to “go the second mile” (Matthew 5:38–42) which is not a challenge to be lukewarm or partially committed to serving others.
When we encounter what is being claimed to be “the Gospel,” if it fails to challenge us to pursue Good Works, we know that it's a false and easy Faith we've encountered – a wide gate, rather than the Gospel preached from the very mouth of Jesus.
That Jesus challenges us with incredibly high goals is undeniable. That he believed we could achieve them is proven by his words. And because Jesus, a human being like us, has done this, we are assured that we, too, may accomplish God’s will for our lives.
So let’s take up the Good News of Jesus’ challenge in our lives and let it shine within us for all to see!