December 27, 2017 What’s It to Ya?, MYOB… John 21:20-25, 1 Corinthians 12:14-21

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Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; he was the one who had reclined next to Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!” So the rumor spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” John 21:20-25 (NRSV)

“What’s it to ya?”

“MYOB!”

Anyone who has been around groups of children has heard both of these phrases. When giving gifts to children (or even to dogs…) it can be difficult to do so in a manner that is perceived as being fair to everyone.  Children- and dogs- seem to have radar for someone else getting something they didn’t.  This disparity is always noticed, often complained about, and sometimes fought over.

Our discontent over someone else getting what we thought we deserved can lead to tragic consequences. Cain killed Abel because he was angry that God was pleased with Abel’s sacrifice but not with his.  Wars and conflicts over the centuries have been ignited and sustained over one group of people believing that they deserved something that belonged to another group.  Jealousy and envy are deadly to a harmonious society.  We want what we don’t have, and we envy the other guy who does have it.

The Kingdom of God is not a democracy, and there is not perfect equality. We may wonder at times why God gives what we consider to be greater gifts to others, or even if God loves us as much as He loves so and so.  Yet sometimes we need to step back and MYOB (Mind Your Own Business) and pay attention to our own role and purpose in God’s kingdom without worrying about what the other guy has or doesn’t have.  It is good to thank God for His blessings and know that He is our provision. He is always right on time.  He knows our needs and heart’s desires better than we know ourselves.  As the great theologian Mick Jagger once noted– “You can’t always get what you want/ you can try sometimes/ you just might find/ you get what you need.” God doesn’t always provide what we think we want, but in the end, and in the context of eternity, He gives us what we need.

Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.  If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?  But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.  If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 1 Corinthians 12:14-21 (NRSV)

Everyone is given a unique purpose and mission by God. The apostle Paul compares these unique roles to the specific parts of the body.  Not everyone can be an eye or a hand.  Someone has to be an ear or a foot.

One thing we can be sure of is that God equips us for the mission He gives us. Sometimes our roles change.  Sometimes what we think is God abandoning us or failing to love us is really our inability to see the whole picture, or that at times we are blinded by our own suffering and pain. We don’t see what God sees. We don’t always know what God is preparing us for in trials, or whose lives we were sent to influence and bless. We may not understand why some people go through great hardships and suffering, while others seem to dance through life with every possible blessing.  What other people have or don’t have is between them and God. We are called to focus on God’s will for us and how we are to let Him work in and through us- including through our trials and hardships and suffering- for the sake of others.

The Babe in the manger came to earth for the salvation of humanity and the redemption of all creation. Every role in His story is important and every child of God is named, claimed, wanted and has a purpose in God’s kingdom.  Our business is very much God’s business!

May 25, 2017- The Blessings of Surrender- Genesis 22:15-19

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The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba. Genesis 22:15-19 (NRSV)

Do we truly seek God’s will and are we open to the work of the Holy Spirit? Even as we ask this question, in the back of our minds we should understand that we are not the Lone Ranger.  God provides the Lamb.  He equips us to fulfill the missions He gives us, spiritually, emotionally, physically and materially. He sends us people to walk with us and to be part of our purpose as well.  He works the impossible with the ordinary, and He can make everything out of nothing.

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God does ask of us both obedience and surrender, even when we fail miserably at it. Do we have a willingness to do what God asks of us, even when it is difficult or painful, or it involves the sacrifice of something priceless and irreplaceable to us?

There are rewards inherent to obeying God and being willing to surrender to Him, even if we don’t see it immediately, or the world makes it look like no good deed goes unpunished.

Jesus taught us to store up our rewards in Heaven- to live for what really matters- instead of chasing what’s temporary. Abraham didn’t live on this earth to see his legacy fulfilled, but his obedience was rewarded.  He would not keep back any of his gifts from God, including his precious only son.

It’s a countercultural message to go against the tide of instant gratification and the “me, me, me” mentality.

Sometimes we have to sacrifice in great ways and we don’t necessarily see results. Sometimes we are called to keep working on a difficult relationship, or to walk with a person in crisis instead of following pop culture and leaving the scene as soon as the skies turn dark.  Society doesn’t necessarily reward doing the right thing, especially when the right thing is hard or costly and it doesn’t bring forth an appreciable immediate benefit.

There is blessing in obeying God. We might not see it right away, but God notices.  God cares.  God provides.

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