Flowering Hope

Prairie expanses – like our sorrow-times – dry and grey

But now kissed by the gentle beams of light

And the springtime of unaccustomed warmth

Come alive again in a transformation of bloom

Reaching upwards to the nurturing brightness

Vast fields of flowering hope

So too our blooms of joy

At the coming of discovered new light

 

Padre

 

Inspiration Call: Flower Symbolism

 

“I Am,” You Can Be

Sibiel, Romania, Well, House, Home

Image by David Mark from Pixabay 

When Moses encountered God in the wilderness, he asked, “Who shall I say sent me?”  God spoke from the burning bush and replied, “I AM, tell the I AM has sent you.”  This marvelous name of God is so powerful, “I am that I am, I am that I was, I am that I will be.”  It is the embodiment of God’s eternal nature, and so much more.

It is important therefore that in John chapter 4, Jesus proclaims the first of His “I AM” statements.

Now he had to go through Samaria.  So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph.  Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”  (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,  but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

“I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.  Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

Jesus in this passage makes two important claims.  The first is that He is the source of “living water,” a water that once consumed can become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  This parallels with John 7: 37 to 39, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”(When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him.”  Revelation 21 picks up on this with a clear statement : “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.”

Jesus is the source of living water, and that water is His Spirit.

John 4 then moves on to the woman speaks of the anticipation of the coming of Messiah, Jesus with no attempt to be allegorical states, “I am he.”

Jesus is not only the source of living water (the Spirit of God), but Messiah, the Anointed One, who will bring salvation.

Dianne when reflecting on this passage made a really insightful observation. “It is significant that Jesus chose to share the first of His”I am” statements with a woman who was full of shame, and a Samaritan as well.  It is as if He searched for the worst example of a person with which to share this gift.  There is no depth to which we can sink, no sin so bad, that He cannot forgive us, meeting us at our point of crisis, and accept us as we are.”

All who drink of the water of Messiah, shall be lifted and that water will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  

We may not be much.  We may be the vilest of sinners.  We may be outcast or ashamed.  But we can through the “Living Water,” of the Great I AM “inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.”  He is.  We can become.

Padre

 

 

 

Atmosphere

Image result for sky

 

It has been an inspirational couple of weeks with powerful messages being presented to challenge and encourage us.

The first of these was presented by Brother Larry in which he drew upon 1 Corinthians 16:15.  The passage in the KJV reads, “I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints).”  The translation was purposely chosen to bring the emphasis upon the word “addicted,” rather than “dedicated.”  It is the overwhelming degree that is captured by the word “addiction” that makes the passage so powerful.

While Isaac Airfreight did a sketch decades go about being a “Bible Junkie,” it pales to the message of our brother, Larry.  His was not a comedy which used satire to make an emphasis, but rather an “in your face” challenge to let God’s call to service be over-riding in our lives.   He noted that addicts “live” for their “fix” and we should do no less in our relation to God and His people.

This is a kind of transformation.  Pastor Vince picked up on this theme when he noted that we by our presence (one transformed by our conforming to the image of Christ, and His presence within us) should change the atmosphere of our surroundings.  He drew upon Habakkuk 2 to note that though the world seems dominated by evil, God has an appointed time in which righteousness will prevail.  We should not bemoan the woes of an evil world, but trust in God’s ultimate victory, and be “watchmen” for the day when it will come, holding firm (being transformed – addicted even) to righteousness ourselves.

In Joel 2 we see this advanced, that despite calamity – if we “rend your [our] heart, and not your [our] garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness (v.13);” then “it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered (vs 32).”  It isn’t a sad countenance and a sense of defeat, but a trust that changes ourselves and the surrounding atmosphere.

Matthew 5 says we are “a light in the world.”  Not that “our” light shines, but God’s light shines through us.  We as we “go into all the world” should be like a city on the hill, a watchmen upon the walls.  We are through our conforming to Christ within us atmosphere changers.  We addicts to holiness are instruments of change.

In Acts 2 we see a handful of Jesus’ follows lighting up the world, when they are filled by God’s Spirit.  They spoke tongues of many lands, and later healed the sick and gave hope to a dying world.   If so few can “turn the world upside down,” should not we – their spiritual descendants be as addicted, as conformed, and become a new breath of fresh air in our world.   Let’s change the atmosphere.

Padre

 

Set Free by Truth

Pastor Vince brought a powerful message on Sunday drawn from John 8.  He focused on the liberating power of truth, and how we might achieve freedom through it.

He began with verse 12,  in which Jesus proclaims Himself to be light.  Light reveals, and darkness obscures, but more importantly light brings life.  Coupled we can clearly see that light and truth (the only thing remaining when light reveals falsehood) gives us freedom from the darkness and its accompanying sin.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (v 12).”

Jesus’ words receive an immediate response,

“The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid (v 13).”

When confronted with truth, they strike out with their own legalism.  Are we not like that?  If we don’t like what we hear, we either ignore it or we attack it.  They did the same.

Jesus responds by noting that they are limited by their own tunnel vision, and that since they are in the darkness they fail to see what should be manifestly obvious,

“14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”

Their lack of understanding then again manifested by their response,

19 Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”

Jesus made this claim of divine Son-ship publicly.  Yet He was not accosted.

“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.”

Pastor Vince made a terrific point that while we may fear or worry about the onslaughts of the world, that the world has no power over those called to God’s purpose.  Our “hour” only comes in keeping with God’s greater plan, just as it was in His Son’s case.  Timidity is not necessary.  That is one of the Truths that can free us!

23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”  25 “Who are you?” they asked. “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. 26 “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.” 27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. . . . “ 

Some begin to see,

“31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.”

To them this was the first indications of freedom,

“32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

But others remained in darkness!

What does transpire in the scripture is telling.  When their lack of understanding, and metaphorical “darkness” is shown, they deflect the conversation from its course.  They focus on their own assumptions, and on their own “special place.”

33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” 34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.” 39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.”

Their assertion of “son-ship” was in the flesh.  And their attitude was a form of slavery, a slavery they were denying!  Jesus also notes, that their actions not only show they are not children of God, but they are not even good children of Abraham!

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

We need to seek the light.  We need to dwell in truth.  We need to step away from the fleshly views shared by the people Jesus was teaching.

Pastor Vince made another key point in regards to growing beyond the views of the flesh.  The forcefully asserted link to Abraham used by the Jewish leaders offers us an opportunity to learn to open up to the bigger picture.  Abram and Sarai were the original names of the Abraham and Sarah.  Abram means “Exalted Father” and  Sarai “My Princess.”  What potentially self obsessive names!  Abraham and Sarah needed a change in their world views.  God therefore signaled this when her renamed them.  Abraham means “Father of Many,”   They needed to see beyond themselves, and look to the multitudes.  Service rather than exaltation.

What greater truth about relationship, to God or man, is there.  Serving self is a darkness.  And Jesus the Light of the World, was the epitome of service and sacrifice.  Truths such as these will set us free.  And we will be free in deed.

Set free not just physically, but spiritually, mentally, and in all our being.  Come into the light of truth today!

Padre

 

Pastor Vince’s message was accompanied by a great demonstration of moving from binding to freedom.  There is so much more content shared in a single lesson, but I have tried to give at least some of this great messages key points some comment.

 

 

 

Nailed to the Cross

images

Pastor Joe drew his Resurrection Day reflections on the importance of the cross.  While his starting premise was a solid standard reading of the Gospel account of the crucifixion, he took his message in a powerful direction.

Reflecting on Galatians 5:24 (“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”), Brother Joe gave us a wonderful personal testimony of where he was when he returned to God.

What I found the most moving was his visually powerful demonstration of the transformational power of the cross.  He used a large wooden cross and upon it nailed tags with “the old self” tendencies on them.   Words which many can relate such as Anxiety, Fear, Lust, and Death, were systematically (literally) and symbolically nailed to the cross.

But this act of illustration had yet another twist.  Brother Joe then reminded us that the old self died on the cross with Jesus, and with His triumph we were transformed.  He then flipped the tags to read such things as Peace, Righteousness, and Life.

We are indeed alive and transformed by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and by the hope and glory of His resurrection three days later.  What a timely reminder on Easter Day, that the triumph over death is a triumph to all aspects of the old lost self.

Let each of us remember that today.

 

Padre

 

Water Under The Bridge

 

CE AYR 3

Photo Credit: C.E. Ayr

It wasn’t much of a flow.  It was shallow, with swans gliding in the bridge’s lee.  It was what it represented that mattered.  It was the border, and it was a divide, even if only for road traffic.

He stood and watched the water as it quickened in the channels between the pilings.  What had his mother always said? “Water under the bridge;” that was it.  He had always taken it as a reassuring statement.  Didn’t it mean, “The past is the past, just let it go,” but now he was unsure.

Watching the water, he could see that while it does move on, there is always more to replace it.  The waters keep coming, you just can’t let the waters go.

“Are life’s past failings the same way?  Are our mistakes doomed to repeat themselves?  Why even bother?” he thought to himself.

Then shaking himself, he grasped at the idea, “Maybe the new water will be cleaner, fresher,  a new start that can just let the old waters flow away.”

“It was worth a try,” he concluded, and made his way to the bridge, a new country, and a new start.

(192 words)

Sunday Photo Fiction – April 7, 2019

Padre

Saul: “by faith, not by sight”

 

Image result for paul damascus

Saul was closely associated with the Council and other leaders of the Jews.  He would have well known the events which led to Jesus’ execution and the “wild story” of His resurrection.   It is precisely that, that seems to be one of the driving forces of his persecution of the fledgling Christian movement. It does not make sense for the dead to return.

But this is exactly what had happened. It is interesting to note that in Luke, Jesus had ended the parable of the rich man and Lazarus with an assertion that if one would not believe the words of Moses and the Prophets, they would not believe even if one returned from death!

Paul on the surface, a man who professed that his “righteousness based on the law, [was] faultless;” nevertheless he persecuted the church for the claim of resurrection (Philippians 3:6).  Maybe it was his dedication to a narrow interpretation of law that “blinded” him. He was so caught up in the tangible and in the “concrete” written word, that he failed to see what the spirit underlying the word was teaching him.

He did not grasp what the Hebrews writer concluded: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).”  Jesus, Himself had picked up on this when Thomas called for a physical sign of the resurrection, “Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’ (John 20:29).”

So there was Saul, fixated on what he thought he knew. The witnesses of Jesus’ actions during His ministry were ignored, and those who proclaimed the risen Christ were persecuted.

Then, Bang! Saul encounters Jesus on the Damascus road. All of his assumptions and prejudices were challenged.

“Saul, why do you persecute me?,” Jesus asked.

“But, who are you?”

“I am Jesus!”

[One can imagine the embellishment to the scripture:] “But, you’re dead!”

“Apparently not!”

Saul, was blinded by the brilliant light of Jesus’ presence. In a sense, he had to be physically blinded, in order to truly spiritually see. This was a conversion, and changing of the path he was on.

Yet, this life changing realisation, goes in the face of Jesus’ suggestion in Luke that even if one witnessed one returning from the dead, and didn’t believe the scriptures, they would not believe.  Maybe it is still the case with Saul. He did believe what Moses and the Prophets had taught, he just failed to fully understand.  It was his dedication to the principle (with a little enlightening from Jesus) that prepared him for what was to come.

Saul (now Paul) was transformed and could now profess, “for we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).”

Are we bound by our assumptions (religious or secular)? Do we take the “seeing is believing” approach?  Or do we “close our eyes” to possibilities that don’t fit into our conceptions or plans? If so, let us seek our own Damascus moments.

Padre

 

 

Bearing Fruit

The term fruit has loads of applications. It is in its simplest form the ripened ovum of a plant, which bears the seeds to pass on its line to the next generation. It can be those same seed bearing parts which are used for food (apples, oranges, and such). It can also be used more generally, as a term for useful outcome of one’s labours.

God told Adam and Eve to go out and “be fruitful,” meaning to reproduce and also to be productive.

Paul picks up the metaphorical use when he presents the Fruits of the Spirit. In Galatians 5 he writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (verses 22-23).

We have been transformed from “the old self, one characterised by selfishness, into new creations. The Holy Spirit indwells us, and in this we receive and bear fruit by the Spirit.  Paul starts his list with “love, joy, and peace.” Love is the basis of relationship (with God, and our fellow people), but also of selflessness.  The Spirit assures us of God’s love for us. And if we are showing (and feeling) acts of love to others (being loving), we are less likely to be “self-obsessed.” Joy can come from this. This sense of uplifting is often a byproduct of our human relationships, but even more so in our divine encounter.  God Lifted Me is the name of a hymn, but it is also a truth for those in relationship with Him.  The Spirit fosters such joy within us. With this uplifting, many of our doubts, fears, and pains can be lessened. This brings peace.  Peace is not just the absence of conflict, but of stillness, contentedness, and tranquility.

These positive inward benefits of the Spirit’s fruit transform us.  This leads us to forebearance, and kindness.  When we are transformed to joy and peace, and this clothed in love it is far easier to deal with others.   It gives us patience (forebearance) and enables us to see past others’ faults or perceived faults. We can then positively act on this patience with shows of kindness.  In the same way Jesus showed us infinite kindness giving Himself for us, we can be giving to others.  This need not be physical or monetary (though it can be), but emotional and spiritual as well.  We can “be there” for others, building them up.  We can also teach, counsel, and mentor all as acts of kindness.

Goodness (Godness) is a positive quality as well.  Eschewing evil, yes, but even more so making a positive example in our moral and ethical walk.  It fits in with kindness, as we can “do good” for others.  It is walking in the Spirit, living a life which mirrors Jesus.

This goodness is linked with faithfulness.  The Spirit helps us remain on that godly walk.  The transformational power helps us through our conscience and the awareness of God’s standards for our lives. We as loving, joyful, peaceful people patiently and kindly moving towards our goal above will as we progress onwards find it as second nature to continue (with the Spirit’s help).

As such loving and kindly people we can also become gentle. Not harsh is our actions or words.  We can build up, and not tear down. This gentleness is one aspect of self-control.  We don’t need external factors, or the treat of punishments to guide us.  Our Spirit transformed selves will as noted above have a new or second nature.  A godliness that is as more “us” than the old sinful self ever was.

These fruits, inward and outward manifesting are among God’s bountiful gifts to us.  Let us open ourselves to the Spirit’s guidance today, and see the fruit that will result.

Padre

 

Risen Completely

Empty-Tomb-Picture-06

Sister Amba finished our series on the Risen Christ with a message, “Completely Risen.” Over the lead-up to Easter topics such as, since Jesus is risen our minds are renewed, and we are risen to reign.  Amba closed this with our complete raising in His rising.

She noted that to be complete is to be fulfilled.  She then showed us three aspects of fulfillment brought about in the Easter story.

The first is that Jesus’ mission was complete. In John 19: 28 -30 we read,

“Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”  A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

Jesus Himself said “It is finished.”  Mission completed! But there is more to the passage, notice that in His words and actions on the cross “Scripture was fulfilled.” This completed mission had been established before time.  The prophecies (including Psalm 22) had been met word for word.  But even this does not show the magnitude of Jesus’ sacrifice.  This plan called for Him to set aside Heaven, and become Emmanuel. He also had the power to defeat those who opposed Him physically (see John 18: 4 -6), but was true to the plan and His statement in Gethsemane, “Father, Your will not mine.”

But if the mission was completed on the cross, the story continued with the grave. Jesus did not remain in the tomb. He was raised to glory!  He was raised with power.

In His rising we are “fulfilled in power.” Romans 8:11 tells us, “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” We are raised by the same power, a power that transforms us completely.  We are made “new creations” who are transformed and renewed in our minds, souls, and who are lifted up that even giving us life everlasting.

Yet many do not show this total completeness.  This comes not from the Spirit’s “failure” to raise us up, but from our failure to take hold of the promise, the power, and the transformation.  We hold on to the self-limiting (see Battle for the Mind) views that deprive us of “the peace that passes all understanding.”

But Amba clearly reminded us that Jesus in His passion gave us His all in all. He not only left Heaven, but He faced the trials of betrayal, denial, arrest, beating, and ultimately execution. He “gave it all.” How then can we still hold on to the passed He died to free us from?  We need to make Him our all in all.  Colossians 3: 5f challenges us,

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew,circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

If we put the past behind us, from which He has freed us we will be transformed:  transformed beyond our circumstances; transformed beyond our earthly desires; and transformed beyond our doubts and fears.  We will be raised completely, through His rising!

Padre

[Thank you Amba for this message. For anyone interested, Sister Amba has recently written a book on her reflections on 2 Corinthians.  If you are interested in checking it out please let me know, and I will put you into contact with her].

 

Risen to Reign

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Pastor Rich continued our series on the Risen Jesus Raising Us.  His theme was “Risen to Reign.” He began his message with a reference to Revelation 1: 5b and 6, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.”  We are through His resurrection, and His love, raised up to be a kingdom of priests, and He has freed us from our sins.

This is truly a raising up.  We who were slaves to sin, are now elevated to priesthood.  Our reign is not a rule of power and conceit, but of service and holiness. Sin is mastered, and no longer master through the transformational power of the resurrection.

This is evident in Romans 5:17,  “For if, by the trespass of the one man (Adam), death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!”  We are transformed by grace to reign in life.  This reign is fantastic. We who were lost through the nature of Adam, are now adopted into the family of the King of kings, and Lord of lords.  We are the younger siblings of the Prince of Peace, and the adopted children of the King of the universe. How’s that for being lifted up?

But again, we are not to be arrogant or prideful in this.  It is through no merit of our own, but by the grace of Him crucified, that in His rising He has raised us as well.

Returning to the transformation into mastery, it is now that we have the ability through the redemption of the blood, that we can rise above circumstance and even our “old self” (the slave self). This is not by works “lest any may boast.” As Pastor Rich rightly said (and in keeping with James’ epistle) we work not to be saved, or to be raised. Grace equals salvation and works.  Works do not equate to salvation. We work not to be saved, but because we are.  This service to God, and our fellow man is reflective to our reign as a “kingdom of priests” (Rev 1: 6).

Rich illustrated this raising with Gideon in Judges 6. Here is a man, the least of his family, the least family of Manasseh, the least tribe of Israel. Yet, God addresses him as “mighty warrior.”  Gideon immediately questions, rather than accept the salutation.  But God had ordained him to lead his people.  This man who is found hiding in a wine press becomes Judge over Israel. This is the rising we too have through Jesus’ rising.

We have despite our pasts, weaknesses, or doubts been raised to reign.

Padre