“Why do the nations conspire 

and the peoples plot in vain?”

Ps 2: 1

Excellent question that. Why indeed? “The kings of the earth rise up

and the rulers band together

against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,

‘Let us break their chains

and throw off their shackles.’”

Ps 2: 2

Many politicians just can’t stand to let God be in control. They can’t wait to “Throw off their shackles” and be free. For example, Jeremiah’s message to the king of Judah was, “Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.” This is too much to ask for some politicians. They certainly can’t abide James 3: 13-18 – ”Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”

So, can we follow politicians who defy God and follow God too? “No one can serve two masters.” – Jesus

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COVID and the Church

Recently, there has been a controversy about when churches should get out of the isolation orders for controlling the COVID 19 pandemic. Some are making the argument that we have a right to meet as we see fit and the government is oppressing us by not letting us meet together. Meanwhile, churches throughout the world have been identified as “superspreader” locations where people gather in close proximity and spread the disease to the congregation, the community, and pastors. Some pastors have died after touting their right to hold religious services.

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What Matters?

Jesus fed his disciples breakfast and then started talking to Peter.  He said, “’Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ He said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.’ (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’”  Jesus was obviously making a point with Peter, but what was he getting at?

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Real Sin

People think that we will be judged for our sins, but really, we will only be judged by God for the main sin, rejecting him.  Rejecting God is rejecting Jesus, who came here to give us his life.  We can be judged for the everyday sins we commit like stealing, hurting people, selfishness, even hating people, but only if we stick to the main sin, the real sin – rejecting Jesus.  Jesus came to earth to provide forgiveness for all of the sins we commit, which keep us from living with and enjoying God.  He came to die on the cross in order to pay the penalty for our sins – death.  All of our sins can be forgiven if we let Jesus provide forgiveness for us by accepting his death as payment for our sins, or else we have to pay for them ourselves.   Then we can get the reward he offers which is living with him and enjoying the love and peace of being with him.  We do that by taking on the life of Jesus, and living with Jesus allows us to avoid sin.  Since Jesus rose from the dead, we can share his life.  We can identify with Jesus in his death on the cross for our sins in and his resurrection from the dead.  The Bible says “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Really, the only sin that can condemn us is the sin of rejecting Jesus.  He paid the price to forgive our sins.  We should really just accept his offer and exchange our lives, our sins, and our failings for his life with us. 

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A Call to Prayer

The world needs you in its time of crisis!  Why you? Because you have a special ability given to you by God.  The ability to pray.  Thousands are sick, some dying in China, Italy, Iran, and almost every other nation on earth.  Share the gift you have with the world in its time of greatest need.  People are dying, and without God’s help, many more will die.  Appeal to God.  Only he can help us now. Help however you can, but pray; share the life Jesus gives you.  Jesus demonstrated the unique ability to heal when he walked on earth. Pray that he will give life from God to those who need it. Ask Jesus to give that gift to all those who are suffering. Ask Jesus to bless the world and avert catastrophe.

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Believe It

Then John identified himself as one of Jesus’ inner circle of followers.  He witnessed all the things he wrote and portrayed them accurately.  John established himself as a reliable, firsthand witness of Jesus’ teachings and actions.  He appealed to us to believe his accounts because he saw Jesus’ life in person.  Everything he wrote was accurate. It is the kind of testimony we need in order to believe in what Jesus taught and did.  He reiterated that he only portrayed a small portion of Jesus’ message, but it is enough that if we believe it, and follow it, we’ll have eternal life with Jesus.

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Just Love

Jesus taught Peter that his love for Jesus was a mainstay of their relationship.  Then John identified himself as the disciple that Jesus loved.  It’s a two-way street.  Our relationship with God depends on our love for Jesus, but even more central is Jesus love for us.  Love binds us to Jesus and cements us as members of his intimate family.  If we accept the love that unites us with Jesus in his life, Spirit, and teachings, our relationship binds us permanently to God.  It makes us one with him.  Jesus wants us to think, act, love, and live in service to God.  Jesus just said “Follow me.”  Walking with Jesus was central.  We might even die in the process, the important thing is just to follow him and go where he leads us.  When Peter saw John following them, he said, “Lord, what about this man?”, and Jesus said, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”  This is great advice.  We tend to worry about what other people are doing more than we should, when our real concern should be to follow wherever Jesus leads us.

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Stay with Him

When Jesus kept asking Peter if he loved him, was he making sure that Peter loved him enough to be trusted with his mission to help his followers connect with him?  Maybe he was convincing Peter that he had what it took to do his work and that Jesus would enable Peter to do the work he wanted him to do.  I think Peter thought he failed Jesus.  Having denied him three times, he felt he just wasn’t worthy to follow Jesus anymore.  He may have been considering returning to fishing, the one thing he knew he could do.  But Jesus wasn’t having it.  One thing Jesus was telling Peter was that loving him was the main qualification he needed to do God’s work and failure didn’t disqualify Peter from being used by God (fortunately for all of us.)  It didn’t require an extensive training program to accomplish the purpose that Jesus had for Peter.  He was just a humble fisherman.  Just as when they caught all those fish, Jesus wanted Peter and the other disciples to know that he would equip them to do greater things than they ever thought they could. He wanted Peter to know that he had a special mission for him, to feed Jesus’ sheep.  Jesus also wants us to know that we can do great things if we just stick with him.  “And after saying this he (Jesus) said to him, ‘Follow me.’”

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Life Purpose

Exchange Jesus’ life for yours.  Turn your selfish ambitions and your self-serving self over to him.  Let him have what you wish for in life, your hopes and dreams, and exchange them for his life, love, forgiveness, and acceptance into his family.  Self-centeredness will leave you on your own.  Live with Jesus and immerse yourself in God, trading your life for his.  Become more like him, and his love will overflow.

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Soak in Jesus

Jesus asked Peter if he loved him more than these.  John doesn’t explain what “these” he was referring to.  The “these” Jesus mentioned was something there with them, but I don’t think it mattered what it was.  Jesus was making the point that Peter needed to love him more than anything in Peter’s life.  Jesus kept harping on Peter’s love for him, but Jesus wasn’t trying to confirm that Peter indeed loved him.  I think Jesus was trying to convince Peter that he loved Jesus and that love needed to sustain him when he followed the task that Jesus had for him, to feed his sheep (followers).  Peter couldn’t let anything divert him from the mission Jesus gave him, and his love for Jesus would help him weather whatever hardship came as a result.  Amazingly, love for Jesus is the only prerequisite Jesus gave Peter for following and doing what he called him to.  Understanding and insight are useful in following where he leads, but love for Jesus is required to stick to him, follow him, and hear his leading for us.  Anything we do for Jesus is an outgrowth of the love he pours into us.  If you want to be used by God, allow Jesus to fill you with his life, love, and himself.  Lots of things vie for our attention in life, but love is what keeps us on course.  Nothing must distract our attention and focus away from Jesus.  We need to devote time and energy into our relationship with Jesus.  We must love him more than “these,” whatever that is. Soak in the fact that Jesus gave his life to get us back from rebellion and sin.  Immerse yourself in Jesus. If you want to be used by God, allow Jesus to fill you with his love.

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