Participating in the Mission of God

God is a missionary God. All mission is first and foremost God’s mission (or Missio Dei in Latin). We see this in Matthew 9:35 where Jesus, God himself, goes on mission. God invites us to participate in his mission reconcile the world to himself through prayer, sending, and going.

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Why do Good?

In the fifth chapter of Matthew, Jesus explains to his followers how he wants them (and now us) to behave in the world by using two metaphors: salt and light. He is indicating that we should be people who do good in the world. Many of us have taken this to heart and try to do good things as we are able to, but have you ever considered why we do good things? The whys (motives) behind our good deeds are just as important as the whats (our actual good actions). I can think of four basic motives, some good, some not.

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The Feast of the Presentation

The Presentation of the Lord or Candlemas is meant to be a time for us to present ourselves to the Lord. As the month of January has ended I am sure many of your New Year’s resolutions may have ended as well. Perhaps that is okay and perhaps God has a different plan for you this year.
What would it look like for you to present yourself as you are right now to the Lord?

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Exposed

It can be widely assumed that most everything we do online can be tracked. You will know this if you have ever searched for something in a search engine and then you begin to see advertisements for the same kinds of products. Companies can track your purchases, location, and your digital history if you let them. Some think that they will track you even if you don’t let them! If that feels creepy to you, you can take comfort in the fact that there are some things that cannot be tracked: like your thoughts. On the other hand, there is someone who can even track your thoughts: God.

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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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Jesus Baptized for Us

When Jesus comes to be baptized by John, John is confused (Matthew 3:14). Perhaps this passage confuses you as well. John’s job was to prepare the way for Jesus, the Messiah, and now Jesus was standing right there in front of him. Shouldn’t Jesus have baptized John? Also, John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance (Matthew 3:11-12). Jesus was without sin, so why would Jesus need to be Baptized? Listen to hear more about what Jesus’ Baptism was all about.

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A Special Star for a Special Birth

It is possible that the Magi may have heard of a Jewish prophesy about a king whose birth was to be marked by a star (see Numbers 24:17). But how would a normal sign in the sky come to rest over the place where the child was. Jerusalem is only about 5 miles from Bethlehem. They could have walked there in about an hour and 45 minutes. It would be hard to tell the difference from an astronomer’s POV. I like to think that this sign was something that God specifically created to celebrate the birth of his Son! Kind of like the “it’s a boy” signs you sometimes see in a front yard! A special sign for a special birth.

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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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Hope, Peace, and Joy

“Hope,” “Peace,” and “Joy:” this time of year we see these words written everywhere: yard decorations, television commercials, wrapping paper, and Christmas cards. These words make us feel good, like a warm blanket and a steaming peppermint latte, but what do they really mean? Imagine for a moment receiving a gift in beautiful packaging, but when you open it there is nothing inside. The words “Hope, Peace, and Joy” can be like that. We hear them, and they make us smile, but a few moments later it is as if they meant nothing. These words can also be some of the best gifts you have ever received, which fill the deepest needs and desires of your heart. Ultimately, it is your choice.

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Risk, Sacrifice, and Trust

Joseph and Mary’s story at first is messy, difficult, and oh so similar to life as we know it. How many people have gotten married under difficult circumstances? How many people continue to live in difficult marriages and circumstances? How many people remain in difficult relationships in general? Both Mary and Joseph give us a deeper understanding of what it means to be a godly woman or a godly man in this world. They give us a pathway to the Father and a way to follow in this life. Today I want to look at how their lives, choices, and attitudes can shape our lives.

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