Christian Living


 

1-Timothy-2_5_6

Some of my fond early memories are connected to times when I was able to spend holidays with my extended family. Jeanette and Otto Thomas had seven children that nicknamed themselves the Fantastic 7. Along with their 18 children it was always a lot of fun.

Holidays were special already but when we meet at grandma’s house dinner time was a major production. There is always lots of food, lots of laughter and lots of conversation.  Needless to say with large families there were times when everybody did not agree on a specific topic or opinion and the volume level and intensity of the conversation would increase as the evening progressed but inevitably grandma would walk in the room and state her position and for the rest of the evening the focus would be on what activities we would participate in.  Grandma Thomas had a way of ending the confusion and redirecting everyone’s attention to what was really important, being with each other.  She had a unique way of not telling everybody that they were wrong but affirming her position and bringing everyone together.

As we live into this season of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ we are reminded that there is one way to God and that is through Jesus Christ.  We are reminded that we can respect other religions, but the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is what makes it possible for me to have a relationship with God almighty.” I have no need to attack what others believe because I am clearly focused on the reality that my salvation is firmly rooted in the resurrection of the only man who was divine and human and lived on this earth with no sin.”

Challenge
As disciples of Jesus Christ how will you focus people on the essentials of the faith.  God’s sacrificial love for sending Jesus.  Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins and the resurrection that gives us access to God.

Prayer

Keep us on what really matters.

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Father forgive the Pharisees

Forgive the religious leaders who were more concerned about religious rituals, proper clerical attire and using the right liturgy rather than having their hearts in right relationship with you

Father forgive the Sadducees-

Forgive the aristocratic religious rulers who were more concerned about their positions rather than the justice

Father forgive the political leaders

(more…)

“Let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds,  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:22-25 (NRSV)

Why is it important for Christians to gather? Some people would say we need to gather to collect offerings, so the church can survive. Others may think that it is necessary to gather because church is the place where God can be worshiped by God’s people. I have heard also that when people miss church, they feel empty. We need to remember that Paul is writing for the first century church, which is not probably the same image we think about church today.

Churches back in that time were basically houses hosting a few people who gathered clandestinely to know more about this Jesus, the son of God. They were simultaneously surrounded by multiple gods lifted up by people who praised living kings and rulers from the empires.

Paul, once convicted about Jesus’ love, talks about the power of gathering, because by getting together, it gives identity to the people of God. Identity in love, compassion, grace, and favor. Identity that is marked by the faith. Faith in the one who came to give his life against all political systems imposed. Through Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, Paul was able to teach that a king is not the one who rules through oppression, but who loves with such power that it brings hope to those lacking of it.

Gathering on a regular basis helps us to build self-discipline, and while the discipline takes place, our souls are transformed gradually to become what God intents for us. How? Through gatherings we may see the reflection of our sinful nature in each other, and at the same time we may reflect the grace that God provides. As part of congregational formation, the transformation may occur to help us grow as individuals, as well as Body of Christ.

Now, the challenge that Paul brings us in this letter is to not only taking the image of gatherings in a place like our church, but also taking this personal and communal formation to other spheres of lives: home, work, friends, and enemies with the purpose to see “one another to love and good deeds.”  It liberates us, frees us, and reshapes us.

 Prayer: God almighty. Guide us to intentionally be open to your voice, so we can take the church -your church- with us wherever we go. Break the barriers of our minds, hearts, and souls, and change us in such a way that the transformation never ends. Please, forgive us for limiting your gatherings to one place. Merciful God, in your powerful son’s name, we pray. Amen.

Carlos Reyes
Infinite Grace Fellowship
Washington DC

2014 Lenten Devotional

You can request our Lenten devotional to be sent to you daily. Email to info@infinitegracefellowship.org

A little known history fact is that I believed that The Flash was real.  I was always skeptical of Santa

Image but I was convinced that The Flash was the secret to kids all over the world receiving gifts in just one night. I really believed that Santa was just the front man to this multinational conspiracy to keep the identity of The Flash a secret. When my parents told me that Santa wasn’t real I was ok because I still believed in The Flash. I had been to church every year and heard the Christmas story.  I even was in a couple of Christmas plays.  As I turned 10 the reality of Jesus, Santa and the Flash became crystal clear and my world didn’t fall apart.

Another little known history fact is that until last year I had no credible proof that the legends, legacy or institution of Santa had any basis in reality.  I was privileged to visit the Cathedral of St. Nicholas and hear for the first time the story of Bishop Nicholas (http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/)  Although not the image of fables, and commercial Christmas portrayals there was a bishop who cared for the poor and the children with compassion as an expression of God’s love.

I say this because these realities have informed my life and none of them have shaken my faith in Jesus. Parents who are disciples of Jesus Christ have been debating if they should introduce Santa, when they should tell their children that the only story is the story at the manger.  There is some truth to the legends of real person who loved the poor and children because of his love of God.  He cared for the poor and defenseless because of his beliefs.  He sold all that he had and took gifts to the impoverished of his time. This is the man that the legend of St. Nick aka Santa Claus is based on.  Some man getting in a sleigh with Reindeer pulling around the world in 24 hours is false.  Parents spend too much and work real hard to make and spend money to bring their children and loved ones happiness.  I believe that the greatest gifts of the Christmas season are not purchased in stores but nurtured in the relationships of family, friends and loved ones. There are days when I still believe The Flash conspiracy is real. (Yes I will ask Olivia Pope to investigate)

This doesn’t replace, diminish or alter the impact of greatest event in human history,  the miracle of Jesus being born of a virgin as a part of God’s grand plan to save humanity.

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2:15-20

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of God’s Word. I’m single-minded in pursuit of you; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted. I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt. Be blessed, God ; train me in your ways of wise living.  Psalm 119:9-11 MSG

It is not unusual to see someone chatting in a coffee shop and texting at the same time. It is also not unusual to see a mother walking her child in a stroller and listening to a book at the same time. My favorite is watching college students study, listen to music and eat pizza with our missing a beat. Multi tasking has become second nature and we are constantly acquiring tools to become more efficient at juggling the many demands and desires of our lives.

Multi tasking is not what we are called to do to have a healthy relationship with God. To be in single minded pursuit of God we have to reprioritize our purpose. Our total being and only agenda should be about being in relationship with God. Our parenting should honor God. In the workplace we should be ambassadors of God’s grace. In our neighborhood we should be carrying the light of God.

Eliminate distractions – Everything is not important and some activities do not add value to your life

Study God’s Word- A daily time of reading and studying the scriptures develops our relationship with God

Experience your God given propose – Explore your spiritual gifts and identify the ministries and activities that God has wired you to excel at.

Prayer:  God ,illuminate the distractions in my life so that I can remove them and focus my life totally on you

B. Kevin Smalls

 

Several years ago, I accompanied my son to his new high school’s orientation and the principal began his speech with what he called non-negotiables.  One was, fighting.  The other was cheating and I don’t remember the rest of them.  I kind of like that concept.  I’ve been comforted lately by listing what my non-negotiables are as a leader and a pastor.  Here they are.

1. From time to time I would hear that “we are not being heard.”  I will listen to anyone but I will not accommodate negative, disruptive and problematic attitudes. There is a difference.

2. I will not make room for prejudice, judgementalism and religious elitism.  

3. I will not apologize for aggressively reaching those seeking shelter from the cold walk without God.  They are the priority for all of US.

4. I will not allow abuse to me or my family.  I will confront…

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