Taking God as His word that He is willing and able to save. Creyendo la palabra de Dios, que nos dice que El está dispuesto y es capaz de salvar.
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From the first sermon in our new series on the Gospel according to John. Practical ways to apply that future life eternal, here and now, for the glory of God, the benefit of others and our mutual encouragement.
De el primer sermón en nuestra nueva serie basade en el Evangelio según Juan. Maneras prácticas para aplicar esa vida eterna futura , aquí y ahora, para la gloria de Dios, el beneficio de los demás y nuestro mutuo aliento.
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An extension of Sermon XLV in our series on Zechariah.
It is really necessary to slow down, even when it is counter intuitive. All around us, our culture is telling to go faster, to expedite all of our interactions as much as we can, all in the name of being more productive, of doing more with our time.
This acceleration makes a difference in the way we approach God. Particularly, in terms of our theological pursuits. Who has time to consider all of the different details of His work of restoration? Just give me Jesus! Is the outcry of our Christian culture. And if you can do it in bite-size pieces of information, much more the better.
When we summarize to the extreme the doctrines of Scripture (What did Jesus do for you? He died on the cross is the quick, portable and incomplete answer), we lose vital details of His work of redemption that are necessary for us to worship Him well and to face life. Yes, the details are that important. We cannot separate the the work of God the Holy Spirit in our sanctification from His justice, for instance. We cannot talk about God’s judgement of the nations without taking into account His holiness and total otherness. And what about the future glory? Would it make sense without also looking at the ministry of God the Son?
Yes, we can talk about individual biblical doctrines, but we must consider not only all aspects of those individual doctrines, but also the relationship that each one of them have with the others.
Zechariah is doing exactly that at the end of his book, from Chapter 12 to 14. This portion of the prophet’s writings are one single prophesy that includes several topics, all of which are related to one another. They form a tapestry of sorts, with individual treats interlocking, relating, informing one another. Yes, there is beauty in zooming in and contemplating each of those treats, but their beauty can only be total appreciated when we step back, and look at the whole piece of art.
And we can tell that we are gazing at great, really truthful theology when it translates into a great and truthful force to direct our life of worship and interactions with other human beings.
CALL TO ACTION ONE: Look at the whole! Do not be satisfied with headline theology. All of Scripture is useful to equip you. Yes, it will require from you to invest some of your most valuable resources – time being the first of them – but the result is worthwhile.
His Beauty not only secures our salvation, but it also secures our future place in glory. His work of restoration is not limited to give us a clean slate, leaving everything else from that point on to our own abilities. He saved us from something specific – God’s wrath – and for something specific: to be like Him. In this last part of his book, Zechariah gives us some hints of what we are going to look like, in that future state of glory when the consummation of our salvation will finally take place. Our strength will be the LORD, perfectly (12:5). He will have His Spirit, perfectly (12:10). We will be clean, perfectly (13:1). But, for me, the best part is that my idolatry and my tendency to corrupt His word will be removed. It will be cut off. Perfectly (13:2-6).
Then, we live in between the acquisition of our salvation and its consummation. Our daily lives take place in the tension of the already and the not-yet. And while we wait for that consummation, He is at work in and with us, to make us more and more like our Lord Jesus Christ. This process is called sanctification, and it was defined by a group of very smart people, many years ago, this way:
(Question 35 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism)
|Q: What is sanctification?
This work of His free grace is making us able to operate in the rarefied atmosphere created by our sin, in a way that resembles His holiness. We are able, more and more, to faithfully imitate the Lover of our soul.
CALL TO ACTION TWO: Consider both extremes of His salvation for you: its acquisition and its consummation. If you focus only if the acquisition, you may get the impression that the rest – making it all the way to glory – depends completely on you. If you only consider the consummation and the glory that is to come, you may lose interest in living this life in a way that reflects His character for others to see it.
And one more thing: when are faithfully present in the in-between, we can find peace and freedom to share with others.
CALL TO ACTION THREE: Take His work of sanctification in you out for a spin. He is doing nothing short of a miracle, transforming you more and more into the image of Jesus Christ! Take that transformation out into real life to see how it holds. It will. You are being well equipped to do something that will not go unnoticed: love others – specially those who do not share your cultural preferences – in a redemptive way.
Recordemos Su gracia por nosotros.
The topic of God’s judgement and His divine justice is one that can create havoc in almost any social gathering, mostly because its implications are very unsettling. If God is judging evil among the nations, the reasoning goes, it surely means He is angry. And clearly, the idea of an angry God is in direct opposition with what we find in the New Testament. Also, talking about God’s judgement makes Him look as if He is out there looking for someone, anyone, to let it have it and vent out some frustration.
Does the Almighty have bad hair days?
Then we have the whole issue of whose justice is He applying if He is, in fact, judging and condemning the nations.
Charles Darwin, of theory of evolution fame, once said:
I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe… will be everlasting punished. And this is a damnable doctrine.
Ours is a problem of perspective. Our sin distorts that perspective: it makes us look bigger and God smaller. With this warped view, we either believe that God has no business passing judgement over what is clearly our right to choose any lifestyle we please, or we project unto Him the way we are, i.e. if we judge people for egocentric reason, then we expect God to follow suit.
Even a casual reading of Zechariah 12 – 14 will inform us that something serious is happening. It’s not in every passage of Scripture that we read about the destruction of nations in terms we find in this text.
Why would God do something like this?
Because God takes His honor very seriously,
I am the Lord; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to carved idols. – Isaiah 42:8
and He will not tolerate the affront our sin represents to that honor.
Now, the good news is that even in His judgement, the LORD is not like us. In His judgement of the nations, when condemning sin He is doing what His honor and justice demands, but He is not venting, He is not doing it out of frustration.
Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? – Ezekiel 18:23
Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel? – Ezekiel 33:11
No, the Almighty does not have bad hair days.
God’s justice and judgement of sin is fueled by His most distinguishing attribute: His holiness. When He loves, He does not love like us. When He is compassionate, He is not compassionate like us. And when He demands justice because our sin has transgressed what is due to Him, and to Him alone, He demands it in a way that is not the way we would do it.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. – Isaiah 55:8
Then, that is our hope. The fact that He is holy, holy, holy in everything He does, including His administration of ultimate justice should encourage us to trust, rest, hope in Him.
He will right every wrong.
Yes, we should respond with hope to His holy justice, but also with action. We must strive to see His justice – His, not ours – being fulfilled here and now. It is part of our call to be His instruments, so people can get a taste of our LORD’s righteousness when they see us fighting against human trafficking, defending those who cannot defend themselves, or speaking out against all types of racism.
Finally, we should also keep a close eye on our own heart, and discern the reasons we want justice to be serve. Is it our brand of justice that we look to enforce, or is it the holy justice of our LORD?
If I can help you in any way as you travel this path, following our LORD in humility, please let me know.
Recordemos Su gracia.
Covenants are cultural artifacts that are not unique to the Bible. In Old Testament times, covenants were something common, specially between kings and the people they ruled. This type of formal agreement would start with an enumeration of all the previous deeds and attributes of the king. Then, the details of such contract would be detailed.
A covenant would include positive and negative consequences of keeping it or breaking it, correspondingly.
In Scripture we often see God’s prophets enacting God’s message for His people. To charge them with infidelity, God ordered the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute, for instance. In this case, the LORD commanded Zechariah to be a shepherd who made a covenant of Grace and Union with the flock, to remind Israel of the formal relationship between Him and them. Because of the way the flock behaved, the prophet grew tired of them. The situation was so bad that the sentiment was reciprocal. Then, the prophet broke the covenant he has with the people, illustrating in this way that God had the right to break His covenant with them, since they – His people – had betrayed Him.
God could terminate the covenant.
He still would be righteous and fair, since it was His people who broke it first.
He could terminate the covenant, just like Zechariah exemplified it.
He could. But He won’t. Jeremiah 31 – 33.
Because, then, His work in us is secured by His character – formal, that is the way our LORD really is – we can have peace, now. We can go through life knowing that His love for us is secured. We can face our pains and joys with the certainty of His work, presence, grace for us. Even when our circumstances call for despair, we can be at peace knowing that we are resting under the coverage of His protection. The ground can shake under our feet, but He is the rock of our salvation.
And since He has promised in a very formal way that He will finish the work that He has started, we know we can have certainty for the future. He will carry us over the finish line. This is biblical hope. It is for sure. It is not good wishing, but the certainty that at the end, our sin will not have the final word. There may be, still, many áreas in my life that are in need of His restoration. I am still struggling with my three enemies, but because of His formal promises, demonstrated by the Incarnation of God the Son and the restoration from God the Holy Spirit, one day I will be where my Lord is, contemplating the glory He had with the Father before the foundation of earth.
What should our response be, then? If we can have peace for today and hope (certainty) for the future – all because He assures us, with a promise and an oath, that He will finish the good work He has started in us – then, How is this reality supposed to affect our daily life? One thing is for sure: our response should not be to ignore our problems or circumstances. His truth is not a way to escape the pains and sufferings of this life. It’s neither a call for inaction, for an I’m-just-going-to-wait-until-He-returns kind of attitude toward the issues we face, personally and as a community.
The first consequence of this peace and hope is that both, pains and joys, are set to their right size. In other words, the certainty of His covenant allows us to see life with the right perspective, from the right point of view.
Second, this peace-hope pair must move us to action, here and now. Our secured place in glory – His glory – should enlarge our heart with a desire to exercise mercy, forgiveness. We should be so intoxicated by the grace the Triune God of Scripture has given us, that we should not be able to help it, and we should be looking for the smallest excuses to give it away.
Imitating the goodness, generosity, love and grace our LORD because we have been the recipients of them.
Not a bad way to live, right?
We are frequently told that before we can love others, we must love ourselves. The implication here is that we cannot assist anyone one unless we are personally in optimal conditions; the circumstances we are in, then, dictate how we live this life. Now, the passage we are considering today tells us something different. Our well being is not in function of our personal assessment of the circumstances we find ourselves in, but in how much our life – empowered by God the Holy Spirit and including life’s pains and joys – reflects the character of the Triune God of Scripture. And, as we discussed at our gathering After The Worship Service on Sunday, we can conclude that this desire for others to see His Beauty is fueled by compassion, mercy, grace. The very things we have received from our God.
Last Sunday we talked about how circumstances are not the standard by which we should measure God’s work in and for us. The text also guided us to consider what we really believe about our dependency on His Beauty, not only to get this year going in the right direction but to face all of life. We said that humility is the place to get us started.
What does it mean to live our lives from a position of humility? And, how do we know we have it? Well, let’s talk about it.
Visión Mundial (World Vision) es una organización humanitaria cristiana dedicada a trabajar con niños, familias y sus comunidades en todo el mundo
para alcanzar su potencial completo confrontando las causas de la pobreza y la injusticia.
Los estudiantes en 30 Hour Famine de World Vision pueden tener un impacto inmediato en ayudar a salvar vidas, al trabajar para eliminar el hambre mundial. Eso parece increíble, y es verdad.
Su hijo / a:
»Participará con su grupo, Backstage Youth Fellowship, en este programa interactivo de alto impacto (y diversión!), iniciando a las 12:00 PM del día 24 de Febrero y terminando a las 6:00 PM del día siguiente, donde aprenderá sobre el hambre global y descubrirá lo que Dios quiere que ellos hagan al respecto.
»Experimentará lo que es estar hambriento ayunando 30 horas, con la idea de cambiar su actitud y ser motivados para formar parte del movimiento para acabar con el hambre.
»Recaudara donaciones para ayudar a ser parte de la solución. Cada $40 recaudados por un participante de 30 Hour Famine puede ayudar a alimentar y cuidar a un niño durante un mes en las comunidades donde World Vision trabaja en todo el mundo.
A lo largo de 30 Hour Famine, su hijo/a participará en varios juegos y actividades, proyectos de servicio y enseñanzas, todas planificadas para ayudarle a entender cómo tomar acción y crecer en su fe mediante la práctica de la generosidad
Usted tiene un papel vital en ayudar a su hijo/a a continuar en su crecimiento iniciado a través de su experiencia en 30 Hour Famine.
»Durante la semana siguiente a la participación de su hijo, planee una cena familiar durante la cual su hijo/a pueda compartir lo que experimentaron y aprendieron. Haga preguntas como estas: ¿Cuál fue su actividad favorita y por qué? ¿Cómo les hizo sentir, emocionalmente, el tener hambre física por 30 horas? ¿Qué fue lo más sorprendente que aprendieron sobre el hambre global al participar en 30 Hour Famine?
»Invite a su hijo/a a dirigir una discusión familiar sobre la lucha contra el hambre. ¿Qué otras ideas tienen sobre las cosas que puede hacer individualmente, o puede hacer como una familia, para combatir el hambre en el mundo?
»Considere saltarse una comida o comer arroz y frijoles una vez al mes como recordatorio de los que tienen hambre alrededor del mundo.
»Participen juntos, como familia, en oportunidades de voluntariado local para corregir la falta de alimentos en su comunidad.
»Considere un impacto más directo patrocinando a un niño que vive con la realidad de hambre diaria, en alguna parte del mundo. El patrocinio de World Vision es una forma práctica y duradera para que su familia amplíe el impacto del crecimiento y experiencia que 30 Hour Famine tiene en la vida de los estudiantes. Usted puede patrocinar a un niño con el mismo cumpleaños o la misma edad que hijo/a. Obtenga más información o patrocine hoy en 30hourfamine.org/sponsorship