Category Archives: Epiphany

Last Sunday after the Epiphany

From Glory to Glory

During this Season of Epiphany, we have been observing the many ways that God has supernaturally manifested himself . On this last Sunday after the Epiphany, perhaps it is fitting that we observe one the most meteoric manifestations of God’s glory. It is recorded in our reading from Luke:

Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.   (Luke 9:28-31)

Jesus led Peter, James, and John up the holy mountain. They had positioned themselves. They were the disciples closest to Jesus of the twelve disciples. Jesus wants to do the same for us today when we position ourselves.

But first let us examine what the three disciples experienced. They were not prepared for what they saw:

Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”–not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”    (Luke 9:32-35)

Peter was confused as any one of us might have been. The voice of God the Father tells us Jesus must be heard over all the rest. Moses represented the Law and Elijah represented the Prophets, but Jesus represented more than these two. The Apostle Paul wrote

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.   (1 Corinthians 13:1-2)

Following the Law of God by faith and holding on to the hope of fulfilled prophecy means little without one more ingredient:

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end.   (1 Corinthians 13:8)

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.   (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Jesus was facing the cross on which her would purchase the redemption for who would believe. This would be the greatest manifestation of God’s unconditional love for humankind.

Jesus wants to lead us up the mountain of transfiguration. He wants us to experience the transforming power of God, the light of Christ and his glory. Are we ready?.

We remember that when Moses spent time with God on the mountain, his face would shine. He had to wear a veil over his face when he came down because the people were afraid to look upon him. Moses was veiled because the understanding of the Israelites was vailed.

Our understanding should not be veiled. Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. The Apostle Paul wrote:

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.   (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)

We should not dwell on our spiritual experiences. Rather, we should exhibit the changes in our lives. Paul wrote:

For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.   (2 Corinthians 4:3-6)

How have we positioned ourselves? Upon whom to we gaze? Whom or what do we worship? We become whatever we worship. Does entertainment crowd our time to spend in prayer, worship, and meditating on God’s Word?

In our lives now Jesus wants to lead us from one degree of glory to another. As we look upon his glory we become more like him. We are filled with his perfect love which casts our all fear. We shine with the light of his glory for all the world to see.

The Apostle Paul prayed:

I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.   (Ephesian 3:16-19)

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Saint Matthias

rubens_apostel_mattias_grtA High Calling of God

Today we read about an apostolic calling of God that could almost seem like an accident, but is was not:

Saint Matthias was chosen to be an apostle under unusual circumstances. Following the ascension of Jesus, the disciples (who numbered about one hundred and twenty) assembled to elect a replacement for Judas. They nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias. (Acts 1:23-26)

Obviously Jesus did not directly call Matthias as he did his other disciples. Matthias must have been one of the one hundred and twenty disciples waiting in Jerusalem as Jesus had commanded before his ascension. Matthias was waiting on God. A servant of God is one who waits on God. Waiting could mean anticipating, but it could also mean serving. Perhaps for a Christian disciple the word has both meanings.

In God’s timing Matthias was called. He was in a position to receive a high calling. We may be in a position of service in our church or community. Then suddenly, God may call us into a higher place of service. Will we be ready?

A calling from God is a high honor. Jesus reminds us that we did not choose Him. He chose us:

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.   (John 15:16)

His calling is not about a place of privilege. It is about a place of service. First he must teach and train us. When we submit ourselves to him he will also cleanse us. Only then are we able to exercise our authority in Christ. The Apostle Paul makes this very clear:

This one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. Only let us hold fast to what we have attained.   (Philippians 3:13-16)

Are we ready for our heavenly call from God?

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Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany

Love Your Enemies

God appointed annual feast days for Israel. They were days for special celebration. God would be the in the midst of his people, and they would rejoice over his presence. But there came a time when God would no longer accept their praise. We read in Amos:

I hate, I despise your festivals,
    and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
    I will not accept them;
and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals
    I will not look upon.
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
    I will not listen to the melody of your harps.
But let justice roll down like waters,
    and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.   (Amos 5:21-24)

God looked at Israel and saw rampant injustices. We seem to be living in such as time today. Anger can well up inside inside us when things get so bad. What may provoke is when those who are responsible seem to get away with their crimes, even the ones who are charged to protect us.

The psalmist wrote:

Do not fret yourself over the one who prospers,
the one who succeeds in evil schemes.

Refrain from anger, leave rage alone;
do not fret yourself; it leads only to evil.   (Psalm 37:8-9)

Are we open to such advice. Some of our leaders seem to be enemies of the people, not just in this nation, but worldwide.

Jesus gave us advice about our enemies:

“I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

This may be difficult for us. But we have a example of such love in Joseph. Reading from Genesis:

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.   (Genesis 45:4-8)

One of the things that helped Joseph to forgive his brothers is that he could see a much bigger picture of the events. He was able to see God’s picture. He understood God’s purposes.

Again, the psalmist reminds us:

For evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait upon the Lord shall possess the land.

In a little while the wicked shall be no more;
you shall search out their place, but they will not be there.   (Psalm 37:10-11)

We may be discovering how little certain leaders care about our concerns of justice. Our best weapons against them is prayer. Only God can bring about meaningful change. If we allow ourselves to become bitter over the situation, that is what the enemy wants. It could adversely affect our own behavior. The Apostle Paul wrote:

Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.   (Ephesians 4:31-32)

Jesus said:

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.   ()

God is long-suffering. He wants to save as many people as possible. Perhaps we need more endurance. In the Book of James we read:

My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.   (James 1:2-4)

Indeed we call blessed those who showed endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.   (James 5:11)

Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.   (James 5:7-8)

The coming of the Lord is surely near. God has shown us his compassion and mercy through the cross of Christ. Let us pray for all the lost. And let us hold onto a Holy Hope – Christ in us the hope of Glory.

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Sixth Sunday after Epiphany

Planted by Streams of Water

In the Gospel of Luke we have certain sayings of Jesus which echo those he said during his Sermon on the Mount, found in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus mentions two distinct groups of people. Let us begin with the first group:

“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.

“Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.

“Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.

“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.”   (Luke 6:20-22)

The people are described in this group are characterized as poor, hungry, weeping, and hated. This is the way that the world would describe them. Jesus calls them blessed.

Let us look at the second group:

“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.

“Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.

“Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.

“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.”   (Luke 6:23-26)

In this group the people are described as rich, full, laughing, and spoken well of. Again, these aer the words of the world. Jesus says “woe” to them. It is clear that God judges differently from the world.

God judges where our feet or planted. The World recognizes approves of only those people whose feet are planted in the world.

The psalmist wrote:

Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked,
nor lingered in the way of sinners,
nor sat in the seats of the scornful!

Their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and they meditate on his law day and night.

They are like trees planted by streams of water,
bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither;
everything they do shall prosper.   (Psalm 1:1-3)

This same thought is echoed in our Old Testament reading:

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
    sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
    and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
    and it does not cease to bear fruit.   (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

People planted in the world often seem to be doing well. But then the year of the drought comes. The world has no staying power. It rewards those who are worldly. But the rewards are empty. Jesus said:

“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.   (Luke 6:24)

The riches are the consolation. When they are gone so is the consolation,

What does the world say about us? Does it speak well of us? Then woe to us! The world hates Jesus. Have we offered no evidence that Jesus is our Lord? Jesus said:

“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.”   (Matthew 10:32-33)

What does God say about us? That depends on where we are planted. Are we planted in the Word of God, watered by the Holy Spirit? If so, then we are blessed. Do we trust God more than the world? If so, we are blessed. If our delight is in the law of the Lord and we meditate on it day and night, then we are blessed.

In other words, who is feeding us? Is it the world? How many of us realize that the new media is designed to depress us? We need to get into the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus has paid the price for our sin. He has risen and sits at the righthand of God the Father.

How many of us know that the entertainment media is not designed to stimulate the soul? It may stir our emotions for a moment, but then we come crashing down,

God has the perfect place for us to be planted. He is the master gardener. We read in the Book of Isaiah:

The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.   (Isaiah 58:11)

Where are we planted? Are we “trees planted by streams of water?”

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