Precious Father, sometimes what you are doing seems incomprehensible and it looks like there is no way out and we are so overwhelmed that we respond in our humanness, in ways that we have trouble understanding and forgiving ourselves for. But You are gracious and patient to forgive us and set our feet back on the path to lead us safely away from what would destroy us, back to You. Amen
How wonderful you are God, that you would desire to have conversation with us. Not just because of Jesus but even as far back as Abraham when he bargained with you about the people of Sodom. You did not rebuke him, you did not shut him down, you saw him and his compassion for people and you responded in a way that makes me think you loved Abraham as he intervened for the people, asking Him not to destroy them if he found as few as ten people who were righteous. You knew the outcome and yet you graciously let Abraham see your compassion. Terrible things happen in this world and we cry out to you sometimes, trying to understand, but we know we can always bring our doubts, our pleas, our hurts, to you and you will listen to us. You are not just the God who sees, but also the God who hears. We thank you God for listening to us, and for your unfailing compassion. Amen
Father God, the world names us many things. Some of them stroke our ego. Some break our hearts. The world judges us by its’ standards. We judge ourselves. We name ourselves. We look in the mirror and see flawed, we see a mistake, unworthy of love, an unredeemable sinner. We forget that we are looking in the wrong place and if we turn our eyes to you, you give us a new name. Loved, created in your image, forgiven, free. Help us to remember when we are caught up in that name game that you are the one true God, our Creator, and you have already judged us and sent Jesus to bear our sentence, our debt is already paid. You are the mirror that gives a true image and we can tell the world and our mirrors that they have no say over us. We are precious to You. We belong to You. You see us through the lens of Christ. Teach us to see like that O Lord, our redeemer, our comforter, author and finisher of our faith. Amen
O God, when we are lost in a desert and it feels like we are alone and we can see no way, your word tells us that you are the God who sees. You see us when we feel alone, even when it is the people we care about who have turned their back on us.. You make a way when we can see none. What a blessing to know that when we feel no one else sees us – You do. May we always remember that. Amen
Wonderful creator of the entire universe. You created everything and thought to make us in your image. Help us to remember when we are frustrated and worried and feeling embattled from every direction, that we each carry that spark, that creativity, that incredible beauty that is You, that is Jesus, that is the Holy Spirit, and more than that, help us to remember to find You in each other, so that at the end of each day, we can look on it all and see that it is indeed, good. Amen
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, â€œThey have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.â€ Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesusâ€™ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, â€œWoman, why are you weeping?â€ She said to them, â€œThey have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.â€ When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, â€œWoman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?â€ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, â€œSir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.â€ Jesus said to her, â€œMary!â€ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, â€œRabbouni!â€ (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, â€œDo not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, â€˜I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.â€™â€ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, â€œI have seen the Lordâ€; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
If you saw the last time I spoke, it was also from the book of John. I said then that John is all about who Jesus IS. John often shows us this Jesus with word pictures. We see how Jesus interacts with the disciples, with the pharisees, with people who are sick, in need, poor, dealing with demons. To me, John continuing to show us who Jesus is, after Jesus had died, is a clue. Jesus still IS and John is still showing us. And today we will look at Resurrection Day through the eyes of one person.
Imagine what this must have been like. It has been the worst week of all bad weeks. This Jesus whom the disciples loved, traveled with, their teacher, who had called them from the ordinary to the extraordinary, had been nailed to a cross, between two thieves. They had been through Friday. The bad news. The job lost. The marriage, broken. The unwanted diagnosis.
The horror of His death and now fearing that they too will be arrested – Saturday. Prayers prayed and what was the answer? Silence. Marriage still broken. No job and bills piling up. No miracle healing for the unwanted diagnosis. Saturday. The time between despair and joy. Yesterday I got to participate in hiding Easter eggs and then watching children run around finding them, watching their excitement as they filled their baskets with something sweet. I was thinking about how appropriate to fill that time of waiting between Good Friday and Easter Sunday with doing something for others because it doesnâ€™t make Good Friday any less horrible, but it fills the time between catastrophe and heavenly response and it takes our mind from ourselves and our sadness and turns it to something or someone else and gives us moments of happiness. Between darkness and light. Between confusion and clarity.
Where are you God? Why donâ€™t you answer? You failed me! I picture them remembering conversations with Jesus. Rethinking everything in light of His death. Recalling every word they said to Him. Wishing they had asked more questions. Grieving. The unthinkable. Jesus failed. Even the bible doesnâ€™t say much about Saturday, just that guards were posted to watch over the tomb.
And then while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene ran to the tomb which is probably just a cave in the rocks. Even in darkness, even when heaven seems to be silent, Mary Magdalene runs to the last place she knew Jesus to be. When she finds that the stone has been rolled away from the front of the tomb she runs to tell Peter and the one whom Jesus loved which historians traditionally say is John. They also ran to the tomb and John got there first and bent down to look in. A translation I read said that the word used for “look” in this context, meant he was looking intently. He is looking at the wrappings and he is thinking, trying to figure out why grave robbers would leave the burial linens behind? Peter goes into the tomb and sees the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesusâ€™ head was rolled up and sitting by itself. They believed and then they went home.
I remember sitting on a bench with my mother in front of my fatherâ€™s grave. The funeral was over and everyone had gone home. It was sad and peaceful and we held hands. We didnâ€™t say much. I knew my mom just needed that few moments. And then we too, went home. I wonder, if sometimes, heaven is silent to give us time.
Mary Magdalene stood outside the tomb in tears and she looked in the tomb and saw two angels where the body of Jesus had been. When she turned around there was Jesus, but she thought he was the gardener! She didnâ€™t recognize Him.
Now a little background on Mary. Luke tells us a little bit. Luke 8:1-2 Tells us: Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
Mark 5:1-5 gives us a picture of what someone with demons might have been like. â€œThey came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones.â€
The tombs may have been very familiar to Mary.
Now Mary is questioning this man that she thinks is the gardener. And Jesus doesnâ€™t yell â€œSURPRISE!â€ and he doesnâ€™t say â€œItâ€™s me, Jesus!â€ He is kind. He says HER name. He loves her.
You know these days we are all about self. We are supposed to figure out who we are and what is wrong with us and then we can choose from thousands of self help books and try to make ourselves better. Commercials on television, ads on the internet, all offer to help us be the very best that we can be. Because the person we wish to be, never seems to live up to how the world sees us. We are too fat, too thin, too short, too old, too young, too sad, too mad, too happy. Too whatever. Even people who love us and often affirm us can be the source of pain when we think we do not live up to who they think we should be. Our identity is a mixture of who we think we are, and who others think we are or at least what we think they think. Itâ€™s very confusing.
But in the moment that Jesus says her name – she has clarity and her identity. Her identity in Jesus. She recognizes him and she sees herself. And she understands much, much, more.
You see, even though she had followed Jesus and listened to him teaching and personally experienced a miracle, she came to the tomb, looking for a dead Jesus. Even Peter and John, peering into the empty tomb at the linen wrappings, at first, were trying to reason out what could have happened to Jesus body.
Everything in our upbringing, our hearts and minds, the world, our culture, tells us to shrink Jesus. And you could almost do that. The Christmas story is about Jesus the baby. Jesusâ€™ life is filled with stories and healing and things that are supposed to make us uncomfortable but they are things that can often be reasoned about, explained away. Until the resurrection. That changes everything, once for all and for always.
Both Peter and John and Mary Magdalene came looking for a small Jesus. A Jesus that they could understand. A Jesus that they loved and saw as an extraordinary person. But in the moment that Mary recognized the risen Savior. she was forever changed.
And what a picture this is! The first person to see the resurrected Christ was a woman, someone who had probably been mentally ill, homeless, not exactly an upstanding member of the church and not only was she the first human to see the risen Jesus, she was the first to be told to go and tell. She was His messenger!
There is a quote by author Annie Dillard that is how I picture Mary Magdalene. â€œI had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck.â€
Mary Magdalene was a bell. You are a bell!
What are some of the messages in this?
- There is grace. It is not what we do to fix ourselves or make ourselves better, because even if we have the desire, Paul tells us in Romans 7:15-18 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.â€
It is the work of Jesus. Period.
- Jesus makes deliberate decisions to do the will of God. He doesnâ€™t accidentally get baptized. He doesnâ€™t accidentally get tested by satan. He doesnâ€™t accidentally call His disciples. He doesnâ€™t accidentally ride into Jerusalem on a donkey during Passover when Pilate was riding in a military procession. Two very different pictures of power. Jesus did not accidentally die on the cross. If we follow this logic, Jesus did not accidentally reveal Himself to Mary instead of to Peter or John. We are saved by the grace and work of Jesus Christ but our growing in faith happens because of deliberate decisions that we make every day, sometimes, every moment.
- Jesus gives Himself to all of us. He comes gently. He does not muscle His way in or give us flashing signs. Mary Magdalene couldnâ€™t see Jesus until he revealed Himself to her.Â He said her name. If we are to make disciples of all the world, as the great commission says, we have the perfect example of how to go about that. Jesus healed the illness Mary Magdalene was dealing with but He did not stop there. She went to the tomb while it was still dark. She knew Him. When He said her name, she knew Jesus. He knew her. That speaks of relationship, not just a good deed to check off some divine list.Â
- We understand the baby Jesus. We sort of understand, the living Jesus. We are uncomfortable with the crucified Jesus. We are changed when we recognize the risen Jesus.Â Jesus tells Mary not to hold on to Him. It would be human nature to want to keep Him there, to keep Him small. Jesus has bigger things to do. Kingdom things! He sends the Holy Spirit to help us, and once we have heard Jesus call our name, we are changed and we have kingdom things to do as well. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we deliberately choose to make kingdom choices.
- And last, It is Sunday. Without the resurrection, we as a people, might survive our Good Fridays. We might deal with our Saturdays, no matter how long they last. But when we believe, we as people of faith, have the hope that Sunday will come.Â
Today, Jesus is risen! Everything is different. We see a cycle of birth, life, and death. Jesus defies our little cycle and says, wait. There is more. Hold on to hope through the silence. Jesus had a Saturday. Heaven was silent. But when the answer came it was eternal.
Today a homeless person with a dodgy past and some mental issues, could come up to you and say, I have seen the Lord. The tomb is empty! He is not dead! He is risen! Today, you with your own imperfections, might be the one who is the living Jesus, for someone else because the power of the Holy Spirit is in you! Today, Jesus is saying your name. He loves you. Do you recognize him?
Father, open our eyes that we would see You when You are standing in front of us, no matter what form You come in. Open our ears so that we recognize Your voice when You call our name. Fill us with the Holy Spirit because we know that tomorrow, Easter is over. The world is noisy, clamoring for our attention. Many of us are in the midst of our own Saturdays and need reminders of Easter. We need help to make those deliberate decisions to follow You. Help us also to see the Mary Magdalenes and all of those who pass by just in the corner of our vision, the ones that Jesus would not only call by name, but would call friends. Help us to see every single day, that here is where we practice faith, a rehearsal for Your kingdom. We are so grateful for your love, for your grace, for joy, for the work You did on the cross that we never tire of telling Your story, of learning more about You, of singing of Your glory, of being Your friends. We serve a risen, living savior. Amen.
At that time Herod the ruler[a] heard reports about Jesus; 2 and he said to his servants, â€œThis is John the Baptist; he has been raised from the dead, and for this reason these powers are at work in him.â€ 3 For Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philipâ€™s wife,[b] 4 because John had been telling him, â€œIt is not lawful for you to have her.â€ 5 Though Herod[c] wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded him as a prophet. 6 But when Herodâ€™s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod 7 so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, â€œGive me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.â€ 9 The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given; 10 he sent and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 The head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who brought it to her mother. 12 His disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Jesus.
Feeding the Five Thousand
13Â Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14Â When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15Â When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, â€œThis is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.â€ 16Â Jesus said to them, â€œThey need not go away; you give them something to eat.â€ 17Â They replied, â€œWe have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.â€ 18Â And he said, â€œBring them here to me.â€ 19Â Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20Â And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21Â And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Jesus was grieving over the death of John. There are so many lessons in this text but the one that hit me was that even in His grief, Jesus had compassion for the people. When His disciples, who knew He was grieving wanted to send hungry people away, Jesus asked them to do something I believe He asks us to do – feed them. When the disciples could only see what they did NOT have, Jesus walked them through it. He prayed. He took what little He had and put it in God’s hands to make it not just enough, but more than enough. The text also spoke to me personally, that even Jesus experienced grief. He wanted to go off and be alone with it. But, He continued to be in relationship with people and continued to serve. A little part of me thinks He was telling us this is how to do grief. This is how to walk through it and not get pulled under it. I pray that we can listen to that advice.
When bad news comes
like a family member has lost their head
looking for solitude is an acceptable response
grief is heavy and no one can help you carry it
it is invisible
and only those close to you know
that you are carrying a heavy rock
and even they may make demands on you
and while you may think
you canâ€™t help others with your hands full of rock
so you set it down and turn your face
from stone to flesh
and you fill a need
and take a step
heal a pain
And find you have left the stone behind
itâ€™s still there, just not taking all your strength
you realize your hands are empty
so you pray
and someone gets fed
someone gets changed
it might be you.
This week all of the scripture readings came together for me which rarely happens.
I am going to talk a little about Celebrate Recovery today. I have had the luck and joy of being on the worship team at Celebrate Recovery, and I say lucky because I know that I am not a horrible singer but I am not going to be on a big stage with lights and smoke and all kinds of instruments and in fact I would be lost if you put me there – I know my limitations. However because of Celebrate Recovery and Mark and Marion I get to be on a little stage with lights and sometimes smoke!
I am doing a step study at Celebrate Recovery and I have a confession to make to you. I am not addicted to drugs or an alcoholic, but I will admit to you that I agreed to do the step study because over the span of a couple of years I have listened to others do the lesson or give their testimony – we alternate every other week with those two things, and I thoughtâ€¦I could do this and I think I could make it interesting. I would like to do this.
How egotistical of meâ€¦but honestly, that was my thought. I could speak some kind of truth into these peopleâ€™s lives. Well in order to do that, the way Celebrate Recovery works – and make no mistake – it does work, you need to have gone through the program before you can do those things, and I thoughtâ€¦well, I can do that. How hard can it be? Iâ€™m not an addict. I will probably be kind of bored and also kinda boring.
Well the joke was on me. I am learning some things about myself. Some good, some not necessarily good but in the context of knowing that God wants us all to be free of our garbage that we all carry, so that we can experience grace and a closer relationship with him and a closer relationship with others. So that we can be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy in the next with Him, Amen. ( from the serenity prayer)
I have been learning a little bit about armor lately. Not the armor of God – thatâ€™s a whole other talk. But the armor that we humans wear. The armor that we construct for ourselves as life happens to us. Armor that is meant to protect us from the hard things that come, whether through circumstance or through how others treat us or even through the bad decisions we make for ourselves.
You know what I mean. Itâ€™s not a big difficult concept. Humor? You know how youâ€¦well I, make a joke when I am at a loss or in an uncomfortable situation? Armor. Some people project strength and control when inside they are anything but strong or in control. Some use cloaking. You know like the science fiction show where the spaceship goes into cloaking mode so they can slip by the enemy without being seen. They disappear. You canâ€™t be hurt if you arenâ€™t seen. Some even use the church. I am a Christian and I wear this armor so the world canâ€™t touch me because I am wearing my Jesus t-shirt and there is a fish symbol on the back of my car. I would venture to say there are as many kinds of armor as there are people but Iâ€™m no psychologist.
I just know that until we deal with those things that cause us to wear our armor, we cannot fully connect with others. Celebrate Recovery has made me see that not only do we all – including me – wear our armor but we are at least most of us in denial about it which is another big deal in Celebrate Recovery.
Now this isnâ€™t just a criticism of armor or of denial because I believe that God created us with these tools because sometimes life hands us stuff that we arenâ€™t quite ready to handle so we crawl under that armor or we pull that blanket of denial over our heads until we are ready to deal with reality.
It becomes a problem when we canâ€™t take the armor off or if we never want to come out from under that denial blanket.
I have an ideal picture of myself that I carry around in my head. The ideal me is thinner, looks much younger than her age, is neat and organized and focused and and unselfish and can sing like Lauren Daigle.
The actual me is well, pretty much the opposite in some cases and miles from the ideal in others. Unfortunately, life sometimes smacks me in the face with a reminder that I am not nor will I ever be that image. Partly because that image is a moving target. The harder I try to become who I wish I was, the farther away the goal gets.
But here is the thing I know. God doesnâ€™t love the ideal me. He loves the actual me. He doesnâ€™t love who I almost am. He loves who I actually am. Jesus didnâ€™t die for some someday perfect me. He waded in to the mess that is the actual me and said â€œdo you want to be healed? Get up and walk.â€ and then He died for the mess that is me. God didnâ€™t say buy a bunch of self help books and go on a diet and take voice lessons so I can use you.
He poked me in the back and said I chose you. I knit you together in your motherâ€™s womb. You are mine. Get to work.
There is a word for all that, my friends. That word is grace. Through grace, my less than perfect voice gets to join with a group of fellow messy armor toting humans as voices and sometimes hands are raised in praise of a God who loves us for the actual people we are.
Through grace I can see how I and someone else in step study who I thought I had absolutely nothing in common with, actually are more alike in our messes that I thought and maybe through that connection we both peal off the armor a little bit and bring the kingdom of God a little closer.
Through grace I get to see transformation as God works on us and I myself am changed because I see that transformation and I say God, I know it might hurt a bit at times but I want some of that too please, so I submit to you!
Through grace I see that â€œthese peopleâ€ whose lives I thought I could speak truth to, are my people. I am them and they are me and we are all just walking each other home as we try to help each other gently remove the armor and replace it with Jesus through grace.
Do you worry that you are too old and too tired ? Here is a quote that spoke to me â€œThe only true rest is grace. Every single other thing in this bankrupt world is about worthiness.â€
Get good grades in school, donâ€™t embarrass your family, dress decent, drive a nice car, keep your house and your yard tidy, Shop at the right stores, go to the right church, live on the right side of town. Be happy, be spiritual, be whatever the next big thing isâ€¦it all gets so tiring.
Jesus says to take his yoke because it is light, Jesus will give you rest. Jesus wonâ€™t break a bruised reed.
The book of Hebrews gives a long list of reasons to cling to Jesus. The book of Hebrews compares Jesus to all of the heroes of the Jewish faith. Each one played a part, But the sacrifice of Jesus, His covenant, and His ministry outshine all that the others have to offer.
We read in Hebrews 1 that Jesus is greater than the angels because He is the divine king .
Hebrews 3 tells us Jesus is greater than Moses because Moses was a servant of God but Jesus is the Son of God.
Hebrews 4 says Jesus is greater than Joshua – Jesus brings greater rest to the people of God (remember what I said about the only true rest?)
Hebrews 7 says Jesus is a greater priest than Aaron because He is sinless and His sacrifice did eternally for all what Aaron had to do repeatedly for himself as well as the people.
Hebrews 7 through 9 talks about Jesus having a better ministry because of the new covenant brought about by the sacrifice of His own blood.
Hebews 11 gives us a long list of people who walked in faith but ends with â€œThese were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.â€
Last week Hebrews 12 talked about the great cloud of witnesses surrounding us and tells us â€œlet us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.â€
Our reading in Hebrews today is talking about some of the ways we would live if we are truly transformed by following this Jesus who is greater. To show hospitality to strangers, remember those in prison, keep marriage holy, donâ€™t be in love with money. Do not neglect to do good and share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Our scripture reading in Luke talks about Jesus speaking a parable knowing the church leaders are watching him closely. He tells them not to take the best seat at the banquet for themselves because they might be humiliated and replaced. He tells them not to have a banquet and invite only those who can pay them back. But to invite the crippled, the lame, and the blind.
We have tried to make the world, ourselves and our lives, and even our church into what we think they should be. OUR ideal – not the actual and not what God has created them to be. Hebrews says, no. Jesus is greater. Luke says – donâ€™t be all puffed up – take care of the poor, the infirm, and those who canâ€™t see. Jeremiah says our way is full of holes. Didnâ€™t God already give us everything we need to live in a transformational way? So letâ€™s look at what we have from God for our identity.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
and finally: John 14:9
9 Jesus answered: â€œDonâ€™t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, â€˜Show us the Fatherâ€™?
We are not to do this alone. Romans 15 tells us:
15 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: â€œThe insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.â€[a] 4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews[b] on behalf of Godâ€™s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed 9 and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.
Thatâ€™s us – we are the gentiles. We are to serve each other that God may be glorified.
Do you want to know how to be who you were created to be? Study Jesus. Do you want to do the things that please God? Do the things Jesus did. Replace that image in your head of the â€œideal youâ€ with Jesus. When you are feeling strong, help someone else – for when you are not feeling so strong, others may believe for you. Be transformed. Jesus is a goal that never moves, never changes, and the rewards are eternal. Amen.