Week 08

Podcast Episode

By Alex Walton, Jessica Rust, & Aaron Bjorklund

In addition to our daily devotional readings we also produce a weekly podcast in which we discuss the previous Sunday’s sermon topic. Over the next few weeks we will be publishing our podcast episode on Friday’s here in the Daily. We hope it blesses you. You can find the episode either on Youtube OR on your favorite podcast platform

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCWnNSTN-6XA7oYy6TBfS0LAxqxPvxVjH
Apple Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/guys-drinking-tea/id1616539767

Podcast Episode2022-10-29T10:50:28-06:00

Our First, Ongoing, and Final Enemy

Earlier this week, people engaged in rituals around Halloween, All Saints Day, and Day of the Dead. What are the origins of these observances? Among other things, they are acknowledgements that every human being must face the power of Death and its accompanying decay. Death frightens and fascinates us. Many trivialize, marginalize, dramatize, and glamorize it. But God gives his perspective and victory over Death to those who trust him.

Here’s part of the Biblical account of how humans first tasted Death.

… just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
Romans 5:12 NIV

This passage refers to Genesis 3 and Adam’s gargantuan opening act of distrust and disobedience, granting Death and decay their power to ravage all mankind from that time onward. This cataclysm was worse than any natural disaster, but then:

…if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Romans 5:17 NIV

If you’ve experienced the power over sin and Death that Jesus Christ provided through HIS death and resurrection – take a moment to celebrate. We were helpless against Death until he provided his way out of the devastation.

But look at King David’s words in Psalm 44:22 NIV

…for your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

We battle death and sin daily. Consider the apostle Paul’s counter perspective to trivializing Death, as he declares the value of Jesus’ resurrection life.

If the dead are not raised,

“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” I Corinthians 15:32-33 NIV

Paul emphasizes if we ignore the power of Christ’s resurrection and adopt a cavalier attitude toward sin and Death, godly character will be impacted.

As Paul continues this letter, he builds to this massive crescendo:

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:51-57 NIV

Do you love these three words: imperishable, immortal, victorious? They become a part of us as we cling to Jesus. Death and decay brought on by sin are diminished and defanged – Death loses its sting and we have the promise it will be forever banished from God’s kingdom. This is not the case with “the dead” (those who cling to decaying, perishable, worldly systems and false gods).

…and each person [in the group God calls “the dead”] was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:13-15 NIV

Thank God he’s provided our only way to victory over Death in this life and the life to come – the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Think about Death’s final destiny – eliminated from the lives of Jesus’ followers forever. Death will no longer bother us as we revel in God’s full and glorious presence.

If Death seems to hold a winning position in an area of your life, meditate on Romans 6. Ask another trusted Saint to pray that you regain God’s perspective and are able to again rest in the power of his resurrection.

Our First, Ongoing, and Final Enemy2022-10-29T10:39:50-06:00

Our Bodies As “Seeds”

Some skeptic is sure to ask, “Show me how resurrection works. Give me a diagram; draw me a picture. What does this ‘resurrection body’ look like?” If you look at this question closely, you realize how absurd it is. There are no diagrams for this kind of thing. We do have a parallel experience in gardening. You plant a “dead” seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different.

You will notice that the variety of bodies is stunning. Just as there are different kinds of seeds, there are different kinds of bodies—humans, animals, birds, fish—each unprecedented in its form. You get a hint at the diversity of resurrection glory by looking at the diversity of bodies not only on earth but in the skies—sun, moon, stars—all these varieties of beauty and brightness. And we’re only looking at pre-resurrection “seeds”—who can imagine what the resurrection “plants” will be like!

This image of planting a dead seed and raising a live plant is a mere sketch at best, but perhaps it will help in approaching the mystery of the resurrection body—but only if you keep in mind that when we’re raised, we’re raised for good, alive forever! The corpse that’s planted is no beauty, but when it’s raised, it’s glorious. Put in the ground weak, it comes up powerful. The seed sown is natural; the seed grown is supernatural—same seed, same body, but what a difference from when it goes down in physical mortality to when it is raised up in spiritual immortality!

We follow this sequence in Scripture: The First Adam received life, the Last Adam is a life-giving Spirit. Physical life comes first, then spiritual—a firm base shaped from the earth, a final completion coming out of heaven. The First Man was made out of earth, and people since then are earthy; the Second Man was made out of heaven, and people now can be heavenly. In the same way that we’ve worked from our earthy origins, let’s embrace our heavenly ends. 1 Corinthians 15:35-49 MSG

In my backyard I have an area committed to feeding “my” outdoor wildlife. Each morning I check the bird feeders, put fresh water in the birdbath, and scatter birdseed for the ground feeders and in-the-shell peanuts for the squirrels. As the weather gets cooler, the population increases. This morning there were 11 squirrels and 10 crows having breakfast in the area. The smaller birds usually show up later.

Each summer, some of the seeds sprout and sunflowers appear in several places, and peanut plants show up in some planters where squirrels have buried them. I know what the dead seed looked like, and I rejoice to see the live plants even though I didn’t intentionally plant them.

Paul tried to explain via diverse ‘parallels’ and ‘sketches’ what takes place when a dead human body becomes a resurrected body. For those of us who haven’t seen the resurrected Jesus, it is hard to imagine what it will be like. Paul concedes that what he wrote is only an approach to the mystery and that we need to keep in mind that we will then be alive forever.

For me, I cling to what Jesus said that is recorded in John 14, as well as John’s reminder in 1 John 3. I’ll be praying for you this week as you read the scriptures and devotionals and wrestle with the mystery of resurrection.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you also may be where I am.” John 14:1-3 NIV

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know when Christ appears, we all be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
1 John 3:2 NIV

Our Bodies As “Seeds”2022-10-29T10:16:28-06:00

Jesus’ Resurrection Conquers Evil Forces

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Colossians 2:13-15 NIV

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. I Corinthians 15:20-26 NIV

October brings many gruesome and scary decorations into yards in America. In a way, it can be a reminder to us that the evil we see in the world is not simply from people making poor choices, but that humans are influenced by evil forces, authorities, powers – then they make poor choices and act on them – this causes much of the evil in our world.

As Christians striving to live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus, what can we do? Where can we gain encouragement in this struggle against the evil forces at work in our world today? First, we need to recognize that Jesus’ finished work on the cross and his resurrection has defeated death, Satan and his demons. Revelation 20:4 “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.” We know the ending – death and Satan will be destroyed forever. Second, though we have struggles in our everyday lives that can involve these evil forces, we have a power that is indescribably more powerful than anything Satan can produce.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:10-13 NIV

In the next few verses of Ephesians 6 Paul gives details of exactly how we can stand firm in our daily struggle against the evil forces in our world. Read Ephesians 6:10-18. Take note of how we can engage in this battle, the actions we can take – notice the power of the Holy Spirit in our prayers. Paul tells us in Colossians 2:15 that Jesus has triumphed over the evil forces in our world, the battle has been won, and we need to remember and live daily in the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection. C.S Lewis’ book The Screwtape Letters is written from the point of view of a supervisor demon instructing a novice demon on how to influence Christians into being ineffective in their spiritual walk. It reveals the subtle ways evil forces can influence our thinking and therefore our lives. Spend some time this week reading and studying Ephesians 6:10-18, or reading The Screwtape Letters.

Jesus’ Resurrection Conquers Evil Forces2022-10-29T09:36:18-06:00

Christ Is Alive – Therefore, We Come Alive

16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.

I’ve been leading worship for most of my life. I have had the opportunity to lead the music on Easter Sunday for about 12 years. I studied theology in college. Still, with all that exposure to the ideas surrounding the resurrection, I missed some of its significance until about five years ago. I don’t recall if it was a sermon, a podcast, or simply scripture reading, but I remember suddenly realizing Easter wasn’t just a celebration of Christ’s resurrection. It is also a celebration that we too will rise again one day.

In verse 23, Paul tells us that Christ is the “firstfruits.” Jesus made the way for all of us to rise again one day. That is why death no longer has a sting. Not even death can overcome God’s forgiving love and our adoption by him. Death is dead. Resurrection isn’t just a thing that happened to Jesus; it is a thing that is promised to each of us who follow him. We, too, will rise again. It truly is good news! I don’t know about you, but that changes my thoughts about Easter. It changes the way I feel about those who have died during my life.

Take a moment to listen to this song:  Glorious Day. Remember that these words are both metaphors and reality. He makes dead things come alive in your heart, but one day he will make your physical body come alive again.

Christ Is Alive – Therefore, We Come Alive2022-10-28T19:58:45-06:00

Reconciliation, is it Possible?

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (II Corinthians 5:18-21 NIV)

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-15 NIV)

Offering forgiveness or asking for forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. Jesus directs us to both ask for forgiveness for our sins and to offer forgiveness for others sins. But reconciliation requires both parties to be willing to set aside the offense, offer forgiveness to the offending party, and to enter into a friendly relationship once again. Reconciliation restores the relationship.

Let’s look at some examples from the Bible. In the book of Genesis, there are two stories of reconciliation between family members who have broken relationships. Genesis 33 tells us the story of Jacob returning to the land of Canaan and meeting his brother Esau for the first time since Jacob had previously stolen his birthright and blessing. Genesis 37 tells of Joseph, his dreams, and his 10 brother’s jealousy. As a result, they sell him into slavery in Egypt. But Genesis 50 gives us the end of this story, where Joseph – now the second person over all of Egypt – tells his brothers, “‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them,” Genesis 50:19-21.

The story of Joseph and his brothers is a beautiful picture of forgiveness, reconciliation, restoration, and healing of broken relationships. Reconciliation is not possible if either party persists in insisting on revenge, or insists on the need for retribution. Administering justice is God’s job – not ours. “It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them. The LORD will vindicate his people,” (Deuteronomy 32:35-36a).

The story of the lost son in Luke 15:11-32 tells us about reconciliation between the father and the younger son. But the end of the story leaves us wondering how the older son will respond. Take time to read this parable over carefully. Look at the seeking of forgiveness and the offering of forgiveness. Notice the reconciliation and the lack of it with the two brothers. Search your heart. Ask God to show you what you need to see in your own relationships. Seek forgiveness, or offer it. Seek reconciliation as He directs.

Reconciliation, is it Possible?2022-02-18T13:04:54-07:00

Struggle For Justice

There is a problem with forgiveness. Sometimes, it isn’t just to forgive. Some evils do not deserve forgiveness. As you read this, you may think I am just trying to grab your attention with a shocking statement, but I am not. Evil demands justice, and if there is no room for justice, there is no room for forgiveness. Before you dismiss me as a heretic, hang with me.

I lived in Rwanda when the 1994 genocide took place. Many people don’t know that the conflict didn’t start that year. Instead, it began several hundred years before when one of the tribes overthrew the other violently. They would chop the leaders off at the knee in front of their families to belittle them. See, height was considered a sign of leadership. Then children of that generation grew up and eventually retaliated against the tribe who had so brutally murdered their parents. It is difficult to imagine such violence, and it simply isn’t okay if we simply forgive.

Child slavery, rape, and the abuse of the helpless are evils that cause us to feel a wave of just anger at those who perform such acts of wickedness. That feeling isn’t wrong; it is a feeling that agrees that this world is broken and it’s not supposed to include such evils. So what do we do with passages that call us to forgive? The answer is we give the weapon of justice to God. Romans 12:19 says, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

We are not wise enough to weigh the world’s evils in balance and determine when and where justice should be served. Instead, we give our anger and suffering to God to deal with justly. He then does so perfectly because the death of Jesus on the cross is the ultimate act of justice against evil. When we give God the sword of justice, we are free to forgive fully.

There has been significant healing and forgiveness in Rwanda since 1994, but it was not through an attempt to sweep the injustice under the rug. Instead, the Rwandan church has learned to give God the weapon of justice and trust in his hands. Only then can true forgiveness happen.

Do you have someone who has hurt you? It is not wrong to feel that hurt. Today, take a moment to offer those feelings to God. Feel free to vent your pain to him and ask for his justice. Once you are done, leave the sword of justice in his hand to wield when and if he chooses, even if he already has on the cross for the one who has offended you.

Struggle For Justice2022-02-18T13:02:56-07:00

Not Forgiven

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.

When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:21-35)

Forgiveness is no joke in God’s Kingdom. Jesus states several times throughout his ministry that if we hold unforgiveness in our hearts toward others, “our Father will not forgive us” (Matthew 6:15). Ouch. Jesus takes unforgiveness seriously and as followers of Jesus, we cannot ignore this teaching.

What does God’s unforgiveness mean exactly? Does this mean God is an unmerciful God and unwilling to act kindly toward us if we don’t cooperate with him? Or does this mean when we don’t cooperate in the area of forgiveness we, as children of a merciful King, refuse his Kingdom values and therefore, cannot taste it for ourselves? I propose the latter.

Our resentful behavior will be held against us by our Heavenly Father much like a good parent withholds reward from his/her child acting out of character and out of alignment with family values. We are the children hurting when we refuse to forgive. We are the ones jeopardizing our experience of the trust and intimacy with our Heavenly Father when we don’t extend his Kingdom values to the world around us. We are the immature who are missing out on tasting the goodness of God’s Kingdom.

Jesus emphasizes forgiveness because our human relationships affect our relationship with God. When we forgive, we draw close to the only God who forgives and when we walk in resentment, we separate ourselves from the source of forgiveness – and with it his life and blessing.

So, let’s take forgiveness seriously today. I’m sure everyone of us has someone to forgive – whether it’s a major trauma or minor infraction. It’s inevitable. We’re human. But let’s first stop to check in with our souls. Do you feel distant from God today? Get honest and tell God where unforgiveness is creating a barrier with him and receive his forgiveness so you can continue extending his forgiveness to those around you.

Not Forgiven2022-02-18T13:08:45-07:00

No Trespassing

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15 ESV)

What comes to mind when you see a warning sign “NO TRESPASSING”? For some, it signals a selfish property owner or an unreasonable government entity. As for the owner or guardian of the property, the sign may be necessary to ensure not only protection for animals, people, or vegetation, but also so that important work is not disturbed. The sign may indicate gaining permission and instruction before safely accessing the property.

We don’t know all the reasons our Heavenly Father put up the following “NO TRESPASSING” sign. But after His warning was violated, everything on earth changed.

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)

Has someone ignored your personal “NO TRESPASSING” sign? Has that person disturbed or done permanent damage to the Holy Spirit’s work in you or someone close to you? Yes, it matters. Yes it hurts. Yes, you may be entitled to human or even divine justice. But here is an astounding perspective on grace and mercy from the heart of Jesus after he underwent three unjust trials that left him suffering under the most shameful of executions:

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34 ESV)

In Robert Frost’s poem, Mending Wall, he presents two neighbors with differing views of the stone boundary wall between them. The first neighbor repeats the sentiment, “something there is that doesn’t love a wall”, suggesting the wall is unnecessary because reasons for the wall have seemingly vanished. But the other neighbor insists, “good fences make good neighbors”.

Has someone likewise contested a personal boundary that should be respected? Are you tempted to cross someone else’s boundary? If a serious boundary violation has already occurred, our Heavenly Father urges us to shift natural desires for unlimited vengeance to His timely and capable judgment. LIkewise, He insists our forgiveness must harmonize with His mercy toward fence jumpers. Are feelings still raw from one of those painful intrusions? Talk over the offense with our Heavenly Father to gain His perspective.

Here’s a less personal exercise (maybe): Observe these two photos below. Was it necessary to put a fence around these invaluable giant trees – some over 3,000 years old? Can you lay aside a desire for vengeance and forgive those who regarded these trees as trophies or lumber? Forgiveness is necessary, but it is impossible without allowing God to change your heart.

No Trespassing2022-02-18T12:59:47-07:00

Formation Guide | Week 8

Forgiveness is a major theme for Jesus in his personal and ministry experience on earth, so it must become important for us, too. Read the verse that follows the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:14 and ponder the process of forgiveness. What might Jesus want you to know about forgiveness?

  1. Get Honest … How difficult is it for you to forgive? Who is it easy to forgive? Who is it difficult?
  2. Change Mind … Listen for what Jesus wants to speak into your experience concerning forgiveness.
  3. Walk Anew … What step might Jesus want you to take in response to what he’s shown you?

FORMATION CHALLENGE … Take a next step toward reconciliation

Formation Guide | Week 82022-02-18T12:55:39-07:00
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