The Greeks knew all about sexual love, about natural family affection, about the special bond between husband and wife, the strong cord of friendship, and a sense of wonderment before the gods or nature. Their philosophers, poets, artists, and playwrights eloquently brought these reflections to life. Nevertheless the Christian word for love that comes 250 times in the New Testament isn't found in any of their literature or art. In nearly every reference in the New Testament this word is used to describe God's relationship with man...
2018 is not a clean break or fresh start independent of 2017… there is continuity whether we like it or not! But a new year does afford us the opportunity to pause, reflect, pray, and be open to God's prophetic word in order that he might align us with His promises, assuage any fears, and catalyze our expectancy. Let us not waste this opportunity to be an extended community of people who desire to be alert to His presence and Word... There is no better place to celebrate this and share this than a LifeGroup!
Mary is an example of faith to us all. She was promised the gift of a son, yet she couldn’t understand how this could happen and asked, “How can this be?” The answer was that the Holy Spirit would come upon her. How did she respond? She surrendered her life to the Lord, risking scandal, difficulties and much future pain, and then praised God that what He had promised was already true as far as she was concerned. What a far cry for our “wait-and-see” skepticism of today!
God wants us to be whole people, not religious people. I have recently been struck by the sheer normality of authentic spirituality. Jesus, the only perfect man who ever lived on this earth, was so “normal” that most of His relations, friends, and neighbors could not possibly believe that He was the Messiah. He was not “religious enough” for that! He was simply the son of the local carpenter; a perceived glutton, drunkard, and friend of sinners... How refreshing to realize that God has created us and redeemed us to be fully human — nothing more and nothing less!
Faith. It is a word that we use so often in our day-to-day Christian conversations, but what does it truly mean to have faith? What is the difference between mental assent and true faith in Jesus? How do we detect when we are living out of self-sufficient effort rather than relying on kingdom faith? The struggle for faith to accomplish God’s purposes is what we see playing out in Mark 9:14-29, and as we reflect on this account the Holy Spirit invites us to see ourselves in the story. The event that took place in a village somewhere in the Judean countryside two thousand years ago becomes a mirror that reflects the reality of the faith struggle in our own lives today.