Mysteries abound when kids are secretaries.

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Yet when I am among mature believers, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten. 7No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. 8But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord. 9That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined

what God has prepared for those who love him.”

10But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. 11No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. 12And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.  1 Corinthians 2:6-12
Have you ever had the following experience upon arriving home?

One of the kids says, “Somebody called for you.”

Parent: Who called?

Kid: I’m not sure.

Parent: What’d they say?

Kid: I think, that you should call them back.

Parent: What’s the number?

Kid: I don’t remember.

Parent: Did you write it down?

Kid: No.

Parent: When did they want me to call back?

Kid: I don’t know.

Well maybe you don’t have kids. It could have been a roommate! Before the advent of caller ID and everybody having a personal phone attached to them this was a dead-end conversation. Dead-end conversations — that’s sometimes how people see the journey of getting to know God. But that’s not how the Apostle Paul sees it. He believes the messaging of the Gospel specifically dispels the fog regarding God and His intentions. God hasn’t called on you with the Gospel in order to create confusion. No, God has called on you with the Gospel of Jesus in order to dispel some mysteries and to transform your loves.

The Gospel message is much clearer than our secretarial kids.

Who called? God.

What’d He say? The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is His plan for including people in a relationship of love and and in His long-term plan to redeem Creation.
What do I need to do next? Receive Jesus by faith; He gives His Holy Spirit to help you know the wonderful things He has freely given us.

When? Now.

The Gospel has a very specific view of the work of God. The cross of Jesus stood upon terraferma in a specific period of history in order to reveal and make a way for people into the King’s mission. The Gospel is the message and Jesus’ people are now the agents of His message: God is doing something good on your behalf; he is preparing something good for you who love Him. The journey now with the Holy Spirit is to live from and into the good He is giving us.

Ah, Dear world, here’s the challenge for me and even for the church: sometimes I still feel like a kid trying to convey the message. I may not be clear. My lack of skills and the imperfections of my life may create confusion. I’m just a kid secretary, still growing up! And sometimes I struggle to find the words to describe the love, joy, peace, change and hope I have found in Him. But I’m trying. So I go back to the Gospel message. And I know its not all up to me. Its a good thing God is giving His Holy Spirit to help you… and to help me! Of this I’m sure: ’till Jesus Christ returns, God is going to keep calling on people through His Gospel and His Spirit!

New impulses created by Jesus’ love.

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9“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!

12This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command.

15I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17This is my command: Love each other.  John 15:9-17

Jesus says, “You are my friends!”

Jesus expects friendship with Him to create new impulses.
Remain in my love. vs. 9
Obey my commandments. vs. 10
Love each other. vs. 12, 17

The order matters here:

Remain in my love. Obey my commandments. Love each other.

Without this order, obedience to Jesus will turn into a dance with self-righteousness. All of our efforts to obey Him will turn into religious appeasement crafted with the hope of making ourselves lovable to Him and OK with the world… except that we are so unable to make ourselves loveable and the world’s applause is fickle.

The order starts with love. To remain is to abide, live in, and enjoy the reality of Jesus’ love for us. His love His solid and fully expressed in His life, death, and resurrection. Obedience is a fruit of being gracefully loved by Jesus. He has initiated this divine friendship.

Live loved! Being loved by Jesus brings us into the communion of God. As we deliberately move our thoughts into the Gospel narrative we will discover new impulses given us by the Spirit to continue in His love, to obey His commandments, and to love people.

Choice and Love

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9“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!

12This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command.

15I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17This is my command: Love each other.  John 15:1-17

Jesus says, “You are my friends!”

Jesus initiates friendship.
I have loved you, even as the Father has loved me. vs. 9
I have told you everything the Father told me. vs. 15
I chose you. vs. 16
I appointed you to bear lasting fruit.  vs. 16

In a world of pick and choose I’m often astonished that we have a problem with the reality of love and choice going together. Part of the mystery of the Gospel comes down to this: Jesus choses us. It comes down to nothing but grace. No achievements, no class, no race, no self-righteousness, no good looks swayed the opinion of God towards us. As followers of Jesus we maintain the tension between the reality of our sinfulness and the amazing grace of His choice to include us in His band of brothers and sisters.

In you.

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9But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)

10And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. 11The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

12Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. Romans 8:9-13

The glorious reality of the new creation accomplished through faith in Jesus Christ and His work for the forgiveness of sin is this: “The Spirit of God, who raise Jesus from the dead, lives in you.”

In you. The Holy Spirit confirms you belong to God.
In you. Though your body will die because of sin, you will live.
In you. The Spirit gives life because you have been made right with God.
In you. The same Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead gives life.
In you. The Spirit frees you from enslaving obligations to the sinful nature.
In you. The Spirit has the power for you to put to death sinful deeds.
In you. By the Spirit, you will live.
Wow! This causes me to pause.

Consider. Give thanks. And listen and respond now – to Jesus.

The Day You Start Something New

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22The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. 23This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see. 24This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. 25Please, Lord, please save us. Please, Lord, please give us success. Psalm 118:22-25

September is full of new starts for many of us. And for those of us who aren’t in school anymore we probably still feel the echo of an impulse to start something new. We still like the smell of a box of crayons, the feel of a new notebook, and the adrenaline that accompanies the unknown. And yes I know some of you are so glad to be done with school, but I bet you still have to face days in which you face something new.

On the day you start something new, I hope you are continuing a prayer conversation you started some time ago with God. In my house this morning I heard this line called out as a wake-up call: “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

I love the rest of the prayer too: “Please, Lord, please save us. Please Lord, please give us success.”

When we start something new perhaps one of the greatest fears before me, is not just that I might fail, but that I might be rejected. Its really good for me to note that the Psalmist’s prayer here for success recognizes the grace of God even in the context of rejection: “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.”  That’s Jesus. Jesus crucified is the stone rejected. Jesus resurrected is now the cornerstone for the people God is building. Jesus is enough!

So, now on the day we start something new, we can call out the prayer with Jesus and in the name of the One who knows the pain of rejection and the joy of the Father’s redemptive power!