Our Eternal Home

One of the most important ways that our Good Shepherd watches over us is by bringing us home. First of all he brings us into the fellowship of the Church where we can be a part of his flock. When we die, he brings those who have trusted in him to an eternal home, the Father’s house.

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He Is Our Shepherd

In the coming weeks, we will dwell in this shepherding image. We will remember God’s faithfulness and how we can trust him. We will remember how he reigns over all things. We will remember how he cares for each of us individually, as well as for his flock, the church, collectively.

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Life in the Vine: Rogation Sunday

Jesus said, “I am the vine, and my father is the vinedresser.” He was using an image of growth that would have been very familiar to all who heard it to teach an important lesson about the source of our life. We can’t have life apart from Jesus just like a branch that is diconnected from the vine will wither and die. But when we stay connected, we flourish.

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The Way of Life

The idea that there is only one way to God is not a very popular one today. Some might say it is too exclusive and that it seems conceited to claim that one religion is better than another. On the other hand, you could see it as inclusive. The way of life is open to all of us but we must make a choice which way we want to go. Jesus made it clear that there weren’t any other options.

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The Comfort of the Good Shepherd

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday! When we think about shepherds, the image that comes to mind is one of guidance, provision, and protection. We can take deep comfort in knowing that Jesus, our Good Shepherd, is watching over us and protecting us. No real shepherd would lay down his life for sheep. He would do everything he could to protect them, but he wouldn’t actually lay down his life for them. Jesus goes above and beyond the call of duty. He is the perfect shepherd, far better than any human shepherd could be. He laid down his life for each one of us to rescue us.

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Believing Without Seeing

It is a part of our human nature to desire tangible assurances. In the Old Testament the work of God is often accompanied by signs. Similarly, throughout the ministry of Jesus people frequently asked for signs. God knows this about us, and he is often gracious enough to give them. But how can we believe when we can’t see?

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Life in the Lamb

Our Lord, Jesus, has so much love for us, and hope for our lives, that He offered His own, to save ours. He who created us, who called us into being, is Himself the greatest respecter and investor for the sacredness of human life. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He suffered and gave life so that no other substitutional sacrifice would need to be offered to sustain us in life before God. We are called to take joy in the gift and blessing of life in Him. We are called to defend and protect the sanctity of life of others. Those living in our midst, and for the unborn, and for all those dependent or defenseless, upon grace for the hope and fullness of life. We are to extend hope and mercy to each one. Let us take courage in the word of God through the Apostle Paul from 1 Corinthians 1: 4-8: “Let us give thanks for one another to the Lord, because of the grace given in Jesus Christ, that in every way you are enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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Dressed for Salvation

For those of you who are married, can you remember what you wore on your wedding day? If you are not married, think about another significant event in your life. We tend to wear special clothes for special occasions. In Isaiah 61:10, the speaker seems to be the servant of the Lord, the Messiah (see 61:1). Earlier in the chapter, God’s people were given “garments of praise” (61:3). Now the Servant himself is given special garments for a special purpose, Salvation and Righteousness. He is getting prepared to save his people. He is getting ready to visit us!

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Patriotism, Nationalism, and the Kingdom of God

Two similar and yet increasingly different words have been frequently used in talking about United States politics in recent years: patriotism and nationalism. Both words talk of love and affection for one’s country, but nationalism has come to mean exalting your country (or your agenda) above all other countries (or agendas) with no regard for the needs of the other. The truth is, as Christians, we must love the Kingdom of God, which transcends all races and national boundaries, more than the nations of this world, even as we seek the welfare of the nation where we have been planted.

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The Near and Distant God

The tension between God’s “closeness” and his “otherness,” his transcendence and his immanence, is part of what led to the doctrine of the Trinity in the early Church. As Christians we believe that God is one God in three Persons. It is hard to get our mind around how this could be, and yet, this is how God has revealed himself to us. It is Jesus, the second person of the Trinity and the “image of the invisible God” who reconnects us with our heavenly Father and makes the distant God near to us once more. For those of us who are “in Christ,” God now dwells within us in the person of the Holy Spirit!

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