Tag Archives: heart

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 13

Track 1: You Are the Man

2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a
Psalm 51:1-13
Ephesians 4:1-16
John 6:24-35

We continue with King David’s dreadful deceit. God instructed the Prophet Nathan to go to David and tell him this parable:

“There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.”   (2 Samuel 12:1-4)

David was very harsh in his judgement of the rich man:

He said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”   (2 Samuel 12:5-6)

It is easy for us to be critical of others. This was especially true for David in this case, for the rich man showed no pity. But we are not to be judgmental of others in any case. Jesus said:

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?   (Matthew 7:1-3)

When we judge others we often find that judgement coming back on us:

Nathan said to David, “You are the man!   (2 Samuel 12:7)

Perhaps we dwell on the sin of others to avoid looking ay out own sin. God wants us to recognize our sins and confess them.

God responded to David’s confession. Nathan said:

Thus says the Lord: I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun. For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”  Nathan said to David, “Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die.”   (2 Samuel 12:11-13)

There are often consequences for sin, even when we confess it and have received God’s forgiveness.

Sin has ti do with an attitude of the heart. When he gained this understanding David wrote Psalm 51:

Have mercy o, O God, according to your loving-kindness;
in your great compassion blot out my offenses.

Wash me through and through from my wickedness
and cleanse me from my sinFor I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.

Against you only have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight.

 so you are justified when you speak
and upright in your judgment.

Indeed, I have been wicked from my birth,
a sinner from my mother’s womb.

For behold, you look for truth deep within me,
and will make me understand wisdom secretly.

Purge me from my sin, and I shall be pure;
wash me, and I shall be clean indeed.

Make me hear of joy and gladness,
that the body you have broken may rejoice.

1Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from your presence
and take not your holy Spirit from me.

Give me the joy of your saving help again
and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.   (Psalm 51:1-13)

What can we learn from this tragedy and David’s confession? We may not have committed such vile crimes, at least not in in the physical. But we must look deep within our hearts:

For behold, you look for truth deep within me,
and will make me understand wisdom secretly.   (Psalm 51:7)

Perhaps we should be proactive in our confessions before God. The psalmist wrote:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.   (Psalm 139:23-24)

If we have an unforgiving and judgmental heart, we have lost the foundation of our faith. God’s kingdom is based on love and forgiveness. Without his love as our foundation we are severely handicapped in coping with our daily lives. The Apostle Paul wrote:

We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.   (Ephesians 4:14-16)

Jesus Christ is our head. He is our example. From the cross he forgave everyone. Are we able to follow his example? Yes, with his help, as long as we are able to look at our own sin. Our salvation is far greater than any false sense of self righteousness. We are righteous only by our faith, The blood of Jesus which washes away all of our sin, provided that we confess it.

Track 2: Suggestions

Exodus 16:2-4,9-15
Psalm 78:23-29
Ephesians 4:1-16
John 6:24-35

In today’s readings we have two miraculous feedings, one in the Old Testament and one in the Gospel:

The Lord spoke to Moses and said, “I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’“   (Exodus 1611-12)

In the Gospel, Jesus is teaching about the miracle of Holy Communion:

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”   (John 6:36)

Both feedings are from God. The manna given in the wilderness was vital to the health of the children of Israel. The body and blood of Jesus is vital to our spiritual health. The children of Israel had no choice. We have a choice. Our churches have a choice. Jesus said:

“Very truly, I tell youunless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.   (John 6:53)

 

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Sixth Sunday of Easter

The Spirit Is the One that Testifies

We get our news from many sources today. Which one is telling the truth is another matter. We need a source that always tell the truth. I  can think of only one. The Apostle John rights in his First Epistle:

This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.   (1 John 5:1-6)

John says the Holy Spirit is the truth. That should give us great comfort, The Spirit is always truthful. And it is the Spirit that testifies concerning Jesus. What incredibly important news the Spirit is tasked to tell, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

To truly understand the Word of God and the Commandments of God, and especially the Gospel, we need the help of the Holy Spirit. This was true for the early apostles as well, as we shall see. Reading from the Book of Acts:

While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.   (Acts 10:44-48)

Peter had been taught directly by Jesus. He had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. He was the leader of the Early Church. Yet, Peter was missing an understanding of the Gospel. For him it was still a set of rules.

When the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian Cohort, and his assembled gathering, something happened. They began speaking in tongues and extolling God. Peter was not prepared for this. The Holy Spirit had fallen on Gentiles. The Spirit let Peter know that the Gospel was for everyone.  The Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. It is the Spirit that testifies to the truth.

What was missing in Peter? Perhaps this question could apply to some of us. Could it be that we misunderstand the love of God. When Jesus was questioned about the greatest commandment of God, he answered:

“The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’   (Mark 12:29-30)

Do we know, by our entire being, that Jesus loves us? Head knowledge is not enough. We must also exercise our heart, soul, and even our strength to fully understand the love of God. God’s love knows no bounds. It is not tied up in a set of rules. Perhaps we need to drop some of our rules. The Spirit has been know to break some rules. Peter must have wondered, for a moment, if the Spirit had broken even God’s rules.

Jesus spoke to his disciples concerning the Spirit:

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you.   (John 16:13-14)

The Spirit testifies to the truth. And what is that truth? In today’s Gospel reading Jesus said:

Jesus said to his disciples, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”   (John 15:9-17)

God’s love is the entire truth. If we love Jesus, then we must accept and love everyone as Jesus does. Only then can we testify to the Gospel. The Apostle Paul wrote:

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.   (Galatians 5:22-23)

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