Prayer for the Week

Transfiguration SundayO God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Reflect the Glory of the Lord

transfiguration-lewis-bowman.jpgTransfiguration Sunday (February 7, 2016)


2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 | New Living Translation (NLT)

Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand.

But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up.We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.

It’s hard to believe that Lent is upon us.  This Sunday marks the last Sunday of the season of Epiphany. During this season we have looked at shining the light of Jesus – being a light to the world.  After all that was the mission of Jesus.  Jesus is the light of the world and He calls us to shine his light and reflect his glory.  This Sunday is Transfiguration Sunday.  If you’ve been around the church, you’ve heard the story of the transfiguration of Jesus.  Jesus takes his inner circle of disciple friends to the mountain to pray.  While they are praying, Jesus face was transformed – his whole appearance was transformed – much like Moses face was transformed after meeting with God on Mount Sinai.  The people of Israel asked Moses to veil his face because the glow on his face was too bright.  Then suddenly, we are told, that two men show up, Moses and Elijah (probably to represent the law and the prophets,) and they begin talking to Jesus about his exodus from the world – very interesting.  What is amazing here is that Peter, James, and John have fallen asleep and wake up to this fascinating sight.  Impetuous Peter exclaims (my paraphrase) “This is cool! Jesus is talking to Moses and Elijah.  Let’s set up church here and just keep worshiping.”  As usual, Peter jumped the gun and God stepped in to show what really was going on.  God covered the transfiguration scene with a cloud, and spoke “This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to Him!”  And then Jesus was standing alone again with His disciples.

How would you react to such a scene?  It must have been incredible.  Imagine being Peter, James, and John.  They got to see Emmanuel – God with us in action.  Imagine seeing God in the flesh in action.  To be sure, they didn’t understand all of us.  We have the Spirit of God living in our hearts and sometimes we don’t understand it.

This is where we step into Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth.  Paul explains to them about Moses and his veiled face.  Moses had to veil his face because the peoples hearts were hardened to the work of God.  That’s why they couldn’t handle his transformed appearance.  Before we knew the Lord, our faces were veiled as well – we saw God with veiled faces because we couldn’t behold his glory – his beautiful radiance – for it was far to bright.  But now, since we know the Lord and we have turned our hearts to him, we reflect his glory.  The Spirit of the Lord removes the veil and now we reflect his glory.  How cool is that?  Paul reminds us that Jesus is the new way – the new covenant.  The law was the old covenant – it only pointed out all our faults and the fact that we could never keep it.  Paul reminds us of that in Romans 7.  It is only because of God’s great mercy that we are able to walk in the new covenant of Jesus’ grace and mercy – and in that grace and mercy, we are to reflect the image of the Son – just as Jesus reflects the image of his Father.

A Judge-Free Zone

f there is any place on face of the earth that should be a judge free zone it is the church. It is a place where people should be able to come in without the fear of being judged and treated badly.

As Christians we are to love everybody no matter what. One of Jesus greatest commandments is to love people, Matthew 22:37-40

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

In the past twenty years of ministry, Dale and I have run into many people who have left the church because of the judgmental ways of some of God’s people. It breaks my heart every time someone tells me a story like I heard from my physical therapist. I did not know what to say to this woman. I truly believe there are many people who love God with all their hearts. There is a world out there that is in desperate need of the Good News – they are lost – we need to show them God’s love. I cannot defend Christians who are so judgmental that they push people away from God

Some of the most hateful and mean people I know, say they are Christians. Maybe the reason I have so much trouble with these Christians is because the Bible tells us not to act like that.

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:12, 13)

These Christians think that God has given them the right to judge and hurt other people with their poisonous and venomous words, not caring about the harm they are doing in the name of God. We have had first-hand experience with some of these people.  What I find interesting is that many times people are being judged not for following biblical standards but for arbitrary man-made rules. In the light of eternity these rules are not important. I was talking to a couple who was proud of their pastor because he would throw people out of their church if the person does not dress the correct way or didn’t follow their standards – even if this person was “off the street.”  Like I said last week, Jesus’ harshest words were reserved for the “spiritual elite” – the Pharisees and Sadducees.  We are reminded in John 3 that Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn the world but to save it.  If Jesus, who is God’s son didn’t come to condemn the world – why do we think it is our job.  Let me make this plain, Jesus did not condone sin – remember the story of the woman caught in adultery.   Jesus asked, “where are your accusers?  Neither do I accuse you.  Therefore, go and sin no more.”  If we are reaching lost people, sometimes it is going to be messy.  They aren’t going to act the way we act – they aren’t going to dress the way we dress – they aren’t going to speak the way we speak.  In my experience, more is caught than taught and while that works for children, it also works for those who don’t know Jesus.  They will be watching.  Several years ago, Dale worked at Radioshack.  None of the guys were believers and they swore like sailors “literally.”  One was even a former sailor.  Even the customers talked this way. Dale couldn’t believe his ears – but was very careful just to model the behavior.  Over the next few months an amazing transformation took place.  Instead of hearing foul language every fourth or fifth word – the foul language almost disappeared – without a word from Dale.  Non-believers are watching us more than we know.  Yes, it was disappointing several years later when Dale took the time to talk about spiritual things and found a closed door, but even now after many years, Dale prays for those former co-workers that they will find Jesus.  I think they know that Dale cared for them greatly and in the process he showed the love of God, and didn’t judge – and that is what we are called to do.

The church – of all places in the world – should be a place of mercy and grace – not of judgment.