The Seating Plan

Reserved, Table, Wedding, Tablescape, Place Setting

Image by Gretta Blankenship from Pixabay

Pastor Vince gave us encouragement today about the trials and stresses of life.  He noted that no matter how rough day to day existence may seem, there is a bigger plan.  That plan is an encouragement from God.

Paul wrote in Philippians 2: 1-4:

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,  then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Christ’s love and compassion for us is such an encouragement.  It is also a model of how we in turn are to be encouragements in our valuing of others.

Yes, but how does looking beyond myself to serve others make me any better equipped to deal with life?  Philippians continues with both Jesus’ example and the answer:

 “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,  he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! (vs 5-8).”

Jesus who was in the beginning with God, and who was God (John 1), gave it up to lift us from our sins, and our existence in the mire.  There is our first encouragement – someone cared about us in our debased state.  He loved us enough to die to lift us from it.

But in Jesus’ humbling came an exultation.  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,  in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (vs 9-11).”

Jesus has gone to sit at the right hand of the Father.  There He is above every other name, and every knee will bow to Him.  Yes, He became a mere man.  Yes, He was despised and rejected.  Yes, He was crucified, died, and was buried.  But He rose again to a life at the right hand of God.  That is our second encouragement.  The troubles of life are not the end!  There is more however.

Ephesians 2: 1-10 tells us we too are to be raised and glorified:

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,  in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

No matter what our trials here.  No matter how far we have fallen.  We will be lifted up.  Jesus has returned to His seat at the right hand of the Father,  But we too have reserved seats being “raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”  

When we suffer setbacks (none which even come close to the trials of Holy Week), we should praise God regardless, for we are lifted.  As Pastor Vince put it, “There is a man in heaven.”  Jesus is already there seated on His throne.  Other men will join Him.  The seating plan is made and our seats are reserved.

Padre

 

 

 

 

 

Repeating, Reflecting, Redeeming

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Photo: agro-textiles

Pastor Rich drew part of his programme for the family service from John chapter 21.

“Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes (verses 3-6).” 

Here we have the first instance of a repeat in the account.  This miraculous catch of fish after a fruitless night of fishing is exactly the same scenario in which Simon Peter was first introduced to Jesus.

“Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes (verses 7-8).” 

Here we have in a sense a repeat, but also our (and Peter’s) first reflection.  In the first encounter with Jesus (Luke 5), Peter figuratively runs from Him with the words “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” On this occasion, however, Peter runs to Him.

“As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.  Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.  Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead (verses 9-14).”

Here we have some stage setting, and another repeat.  Simon Peter had been at a fireside when he denied knowledge of Jesus in Jerusalem.  Now Jesus has brought Peter into the same situation.  A fireside, and soon a series of questions.  Peter perhaps reflected on this as he sat near the coals.

“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.  He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep (verses 15 -17).”

Here we have the final repeat of the account.  Peter is challenged to acknowledge Jesus.  Not once, but three times, as in Jerusalem.  He is not only called to bear witness of his association, but of his love! He in each case responds in the affirmative.  His love (and Jesus’ for him) redeems him.  Jesus reinstates him (if that is the correct term in the circumstance), but more importantly Peter is allowed to assuage his own sense of guilt.

On the shore of the Lake of Tiberius, Jesus reenacted the situations for Peter to reflect upon.  He took these reflections, and turned them into a challenge of love and faith.  In the end, He redeemed His disciple.

God often brings us into situations where we are called to reflect.  He is there in the same loving and forgiving manner for us, as he presented to Peter.  Are we to be like Peter and run to Him and His offer? And will be in the end accept His grace?

Padre

Thank you Rich for this thoughtful example!