Archive for July, 2013

I know what you’re thinking

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

Luke 11:1-13

When last Christmas I gave Cathy a handbag made by the designer label Guess, it reminded me of a quote attributed to Arnold Schwarzenegger who mentioned that “I saw a woman wearing a T-shirt with Guess on it. So I said (asking quizzingly) thyroid problem?”

A stumbling block in prayer life can be that we know that God the Father doesn’t need to guess how we feel or what we need because he already knows it, and in using the words of Martin Luther “I know not the way God leads me, but well do I know my guide” we may agree and add, so why pray?

Likewise, have you ever wondered how unusual it was that in the Garden of Eden with its grand population of two, that after their fall to sin and while hiding among the trees that the all-powerful and all-knowing God the Fathers actions as recorded in Genesis 3:9 are: “But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’”.

A strange question asked by God and a logical question of prayer we may ask. A question from the all-knowing and a question from the un-knowing that are answered for us only in the revelation of Christ who has taken us from hiding in the bushes alongside Adam in sin, to standing before the Father in his righteousness. The revelation of Christ that has torn the curtain of the temple in two that now we talk to the Father not through fellow sinners, but through Christ himself.

To deny or doubt prayer is to doubt the Holy Scriptures and the redemptive powers of Christ himself. His redemptive powers born to us through his cross and resurrection that we be baptised into his family and have access to the Father himself who Jesus has told us today will hear our prayers and that they will not be in vain.

Access to the Father. Whether under a gum tree in central Australia or in a Cathedral in Rome. Whether on death row about to receive worldly justice or the Bishop holding court to the audience of a thousand, prayers are said and prayers are heard by the Lord himself. Through Christ’s atoning work on the cross he has fixed the fracture between sinners and God that we now have the privilege to complain, to beg, to ask and to thank the Lord himself as though he stands before in His compassionate, knowing and loving presence and with His welcoming hands out asking we draw near. Prayer is a great privilege and when in prayer we are souring in rare air indeed.

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

The Words of our Lord and Saviour himself and under the premise that we either believe him fully or not at all-his words here on prayer must be so.

So what of seemingly unanswered prayer?

I believe the answer was supplied to me from one of our own here today who commented that the Lords response to prayer is either yes, or yes but not yet, or no-because I have something much better in mind.

No because I have something better in mind. Wise words because could it be that the problem may not be us asking for an egg and getting a scorpion, but that unknowingly we are actuallyasking for the scorpion in the first place.

Is it wrong to ask for this and that? I don’t think so. I don’t think God will take offence that I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on a new shiny red Lotus that goes zero to one hundred in 4.6 seconds with a top speed of 233 KM per hour. Would he mind if I had one, probably not but he might mind that should I get one, more than likely my last few demerit points might vanish along with my ability to travel in a parish that calls for travel.

As with Martha and Mary last week, prayer is about priorities-the Lord’s priorities that through the struggle of seemingly unanswered prayer become our own like seen by Paul that though his repeated prayer that the “thorn in his side may be taken away” was declined, was given so much more in hearing the confirming words of the Saviour that “My grace is sufficient for thee”. For as Christ prayed three times in the garden of Gethsemane that the cup of the cross might pass from him if it were his Father’s will, the cross became his lot and his glorious resurrection turned it all into the greatest of triumphs. So too today may a Christian have such a huge problem that they may keep knocking in prayer on God’s door until their knuckles are raw knowing that he will answer in his time and in his incomparable way, and far from asking for an egg and getting a scorpion, and though we may unknowingly ask for a scorpion, He will provide the egg all the same for we know that if God is for us, then who can succeed against us as neither hardship or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword, nor death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A hymn says it well, that: “Although we tarry long, He never comes too late” and Martin Luther, a man of deep prayer testified that:

“All who call upon God earnestly and in true faith will surely be heard and receive according to their petition; though perhaps not at the very hour and time, nor in the measure of their petition, nor exactly what they pray for, yet they will receive something much better, greater, and more glorious.”

Yes, God loves us too much to give us everything at the snap of our fingers because great character grows out of great wrestling in prayer, as we persistently and sometimes agonisingly shape our prayers towards His will.

In Genesis Abraham struggled with God in repeated requests that the city of Sodom might be spared from destruction and Jacob even with an angel of God. Tough times but in their struggles both Abraham and Jacob came to know God better and this is the supreme answer to prayer-fellowship with God.

Yet ironically, the by-product of prayer is greater than his answer to our petition as ultimately that closer life with God minimises the problem, as in His peace and strength we can handle it more with and under His grace.

So Lord, you can still throw that my red Lotus my way if you wish, but if not I’ll go with it for like the thief on the cross, I see that worldly things as such are of no consequence. That like the thief on the cross we see that the miracle is not that you forgive us of our sins, but the miracle that we came to ask you for what you so wanted to give.

Recently I saw a “Far side” carton in the paper that tickled my fancy where a horse is sitting in a chair with his mouth wide open, and the dentist while looking the other way says “before we start, I firstly need to know if you’re a gift horse”.

God, seem through Him giving us his one and only Son, gives us no such need to doubt is Words.

So Lord, though your ways can confuse us we know that your gifts are free, eternal and that you hold steadfast to them. You have told us, that “when we pray and ask for something, that we are to believe that we have received it, and in that-we will be given for whatever we ask”. So we bring before you now in silent prayer those things on our hearts and minds trusting boldly, that whether it be in our time or your time, or should you answer in the ways of our fractured wisdom or your perfect wisdom- we know that it shall be done for us according to your good and perfect will. Let us pray.

Personal prayer

Amen. It is so.

 

Retail Christianity

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

“Retail Christianity”

Luke 10: 38-42


John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”
One sentence of 21 words that defines the love of God the Father and the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. A string of words that once understood, describe the most wonderful truth that any person on this earth will ever hear. The glorious truth of Christ being raised from the dead, that we too will be raised on our last day. The truth that when it comes is like a glorious sunrise. A new day and a new start.

Yet the majesty of that morning comes at a price. The price that the Father and Jesus suffered in the darkness of our sins as Jesus was ridiculed, beaten and hung on the cross, that the Son may rise for us. And the price, hurt and agony of the lostness in our lives that we had to feel and suffer to see the truth of our Saviour and understand those words of John 3:16 for ourselves.

The words and truth of the Gospel in a nutshell that we’ve somehow come to understand-and as we should, we thank the Lord in worship and in our lives in response to what he has done for us. The Gospel we know, and the Gospel we come to further understand from today’s account of Jesus meeting with Martha and Mary. A story that seems so simple that one may have wondered why it even gets a mention. Yet ironically I would suggest a story that maybe as much a challenge to us and the Churches as maybe any in the bible. A story of hearing him first without first screening his words with our own prejudices or what we think needs to be done.

Jesus the Lord himself and others visit the household of Martha, Mary and Lazarus-and all I see is Martha busy preparing meals of thanks and Mary doing nothing. For me, I once saw Martha’s response as right and Mary’s as not so, and yet who does Jesus see as acting the most appropriate-Mary. And in that, we see the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The Gospel that asks nothing other than we listen to him and hear him alone and know the truth, and to trust in it. The Gospel that is so foreign to the humanity of Christians and Churches of all denominations that it makes us easy targets for the powers of darkness who wish to misconstrue the truth of Christ. To make us raise our arms in celebration and sing of our great faith and our love for him. Of how we will climb mountains for him. Of what we will do. Of we, we, we to make us believe that worship is all about thanking and serving the Lord instead of the main truth, that it’s about coming to receive his gifts: of hearing His sacred Word, Holy Baptism and the Sacrament of the alter.

The story of Martha and Mary is a story about getting things in the right order in our lives and a story about getting things right about Christ, and both those things are explained clearly to us in last week’s Gospel where Jesus appointed the seventy-two workers to go into the community in outreach and upon returning they are full of joy saying ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name’. And Jesus response, (yes), I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven”.

Similar Paul says “Therefore, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord’”. Getting things in the right order is Christ first, during and at the end of our lives. We know that and the Churches know that, because that is the Gospel of the Lord that we read in the bible, the Word of God. Saved in the faith which we played no part in gaining, saved in faith in Jesus Christ alone is the Launchpad for everything we do in our lives and that’s why we must hear it over and over. Like Mary we must sit at the feet of Christ before we busy ourselves, because without Christ as our only compass we will get lost amongst the distractions of the world in which Daniel talks of in “the last days”: “For many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase”. This knowledge is not God Knowledge, but worldly knowledge and worldly learning. It is knowledge that is not based on the Word and wisdom of God but on our words and wisdoms.

Our words and wisdoms that not only are no help in knowing God’s will, but more than likely will lead us away from His will. Look at us today and what we can do in space travel and medicine. These things are amazing and the brain matter to bring these into play is a gift from God. We’ve been given the ability by God to be able to cure and extend peoples worldly lives in ways that were not long ago unfathomable, yet the world seems to be advocating that it’s also right and good if we choose these gifts to enable responsible death. It wasn’t long ago we looked on in wonder as we made it to the moon. But now there are “war” satellites and the cry of finding another planet to rape and pillage for its resources or even habitat instead of simply following God’s ways and living within our means here.

We live in a world where we take responsibility and boast of our triumphs yet blame or sue someone else for our failures. In living in God’s world and listening to ourselves and not him we see that we are still living in the Garden with the fallen Adam and Eve and with the builders constructing the tower of Babylon. We of the world are drug addicts intoxicated with me, myself I and unless we acknowledge our illness and turn back towards God and listen to Him we will continue to run to and fro looking for that unobtainable fulfilment in possessions, self-righteousness through works and retail Christianity. To turn back to God and sit at His feet alongside Mary and hear His Word and not ours or the worlds. To serve the creator and not the created is not part of the remedy to our addiction, it’s the only and full remedy for like a women can’t be half pregnant nor a person be half alcoholic-a person cannot half trust God.

We the Church live in the world under God’s word and not that of our own. We are either not saved in Christ alone or we are. God’s ways are either all wrong or all correct and we either fully trust him or we don’t, and unbelievably, our all-powerful God gives us the option to deny him. To deny him and believe we can partly save ourselves. To deny Him and only take those of His words that society and we want to hear into our lives is to suffer in this world by having to “win”, to live running anxiously to and fro. looking for answers but finding none that last, living with regrets and unanswered pain, and living with that emptiness that our ways cannot fill. Or we can heed His Word and His way of our salvation in faith in Jesus Christ alone. His Word and His way that allows us to respond to the world in our daily lives as those who rejoice that their names have been written in heaven. To rejoice in not having to do things for our Lord, but boast in Him when we do. To rejoice that given forgiveness,we can forgive others, and boast in him when we do. To rejoice that we can truly live each day under his grace, and boast in him when we do. To rejoice when like Mary we see his ways are the only ways and not those of the world. To rejoice when we see the need to sit at his feet alone. And to boast of him, when he alone teaches us how to stand. Amen.

 

Just smile & wave

Saturday, July 13th, 2013

“Smile and wave boys, just smile and wave”

Luke 10: 25-37

For some reason on Wednesday morning I woke up thinking how odd and different it is in today’s society that we still call washing machines, washing machines (or at least I still do). Sought of like if we had stuck with calling aeroplanes “flying machines” like the wright brothers back in 1903. Or instead of being the world champion boxer, maybe the world champion puncher.

Some times it’s good to just strip things back to core truths just as Jesus does in his dialogue with the lawyer in the story of the Good Samaritan. The lawyer who is well versed in the law of God yet he feels the need to justify himself as in his heart of hearts he seems to realise the impossibility of fulfilling the commandments that he has just cited, of: “Loving the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself”. So he seeks to limit God’s uncompromising demands diverting the discussion by asking “who is my neighbour”. A question designed to lead to argument about who is and who isn’t and criteria to be established and guidelines written. A ploy like we hear so often today to take the focus away from what we should do, to why we won’t do it.

Jesus will have no part of it and uses the Good Samaritan story to turn the question around and makes no attempt to decide whether the victim was properly a geographical neighbour. Rather he asks the lawyer which of the three men was neighbour to the beaten and robbed traveller to expose what the true meaning of love thy neighbour is-that the issue at hand is neighbourly love rather than the identification of who are the neighbours.

Neighbourly love that for us is basically actions and not necessarily based on our feelings. Yes the Good Samaritan is said to have felt compassion for the wounded traveller and acted with kindness and mercy. The kindness and mercy that for all we know the two that passed may have felt but did not act on-be it that they were late and were rushing to get to the synagogue where they were expected to play a part of, or that, and understandably they looked the other way in fear wondering if the robbers were still around in this notably dangerous road well known for travellers being ambushed. And seen through those eyes it’s hard to throw stones at the two that passed by when we think of the times we have all felt the same fear in our own cars when passing a hitch hiker as night is about to fall upon them. Never mind that if we link it up even closer to the Good Samaritan story, that the hurt man is a Jew, this would be like now in our time, an Israelite putting it all on the line for an Arab, or vice versa, on a dangerous section of the border between their two countries.

As always, upon a first reading it’s easy to have a crack at the Pharisees and the like in Jesus parables and stories, until we put his words into our own lives and see our own greed, selfishness and lack of courage. Never mind that Jesus has told us to act in love like the good Samaritan to our enemies and to those we find hard too like.

So what price do place on our Christian integrity? Is it fear of persecution and retribution or unfortunately, even much, much less.

Walking home with a friend of mine at about 1 am in a large regional town after a birthday party I noticed a young man trying to push his broken down car from the middle of an intersection and after my urging my friend helped me start to push the car out the way. And push and make progress we did, until I heard the guy we were helping, for some reason start abusing us. So that was it, stuff you I thought, stopped pushing, grabbed my friend and walked around to the front of his car and pushed it back to where we’d started from.

Fortunately this was before my saintly ways of today (joking).

Would I do that again? I would certainly hope not but the point is that if we act on how we see fairness or what someone’s “just deserts” are instead of how Christ sees things, even if trying to do the right thing our “stuff” ultimately gets in the way.

So which of the characters are you in the story. The one’s that walked the other way or the Good Samaritan that really did put it all on the line. That you are neither may surprise. Yes we are all probably a bit of both at times-but the one we were and are is the wounded traveller.

There we lie, ambushed by our own and others sin bleeding in the gutter unable to help ourselves. Nowhere to go and on the verb of our death Christ came and lifted us up. Carries us before His Father and asks that we be restored at the price of his own life.

The story of the Good Samaritan is the story of Christ. Christ who didn’t act according to his own consequences but according to ours-that only in his actions can we be saved.

A man asked Jesus a question regarding his understanding of the ways of God and of salvation and was told of the ways of Christ. The ways of Christ that once understood allowed Jesus to say “you go and do likewise”.

The question of God, ourselves and others, that should in our confusion we too are led to ask of, he answers with a clarity that cannot be misunderstood or manipulated:

Romans Chapter 10, beginning verse 9: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says ‘Éveryone who believes in him will not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew or Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’”.

Though undeserved, the Lord has come to us and provided for us physically and spiritually. Come and lifted us up in body and soul that we have the faith to call on his name and be saved.

Pray that we to have heard his call to “go and do likewise”. To see our neighbours without distinction, and “to love them as he has loved us”, that they too will call upon the name of the Lord and be saved. Amen.

 

Outside your skin

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

2 Kings 5:1-14

Ian Molly Meldrum remarked that when he met Elvis Presley, his presence in the room was overwhelming and you could feel “that thing” or “that feeling” that you cannot describe, and I’ve read of similar reports from people meeting Bill Clinton.

Yet on several occasions I’ve heard a well-respected sports writer and commentator note that often when meeting notable athletes for the first time, that he initially felt let down by their normalness, or even seemingly inadequacies. Supermen and women in their fields of brilliance, yet out of them were no different from the rest of us.

Be it initially being inspired or let down when meeting people, ultimately we are either confronted or comforted by their normalness. Like we as Christians are confronted by our all-powerful God the Father and his law. Yet comforted by His normalness. His self-imposed normalness seen through Jesus Christ who purposely goes beneath himself, belittles himself to walk and talk with us. To walk amongst sinners. To walk amongst the flawed. To walk amongst the unintended normalness of our sin to bring us his gospel.

When Jesus came on the scene his ways and teachings made no sense to most of those of the day waiting for a warrior type of saviour. Just as today his simple and unpretentious ways are so difficult to understand that many have sought refuge in the seemingly more spectacular. Crystals, contacting spirits, public healings or the necessity of speaking in tongues and so forth. Things seemingly spectacular yet flawed. Things seemingly bringing meaning to those searching, yet just adding to the uncertainty. Things bought into to find peace, yet just bringing empty noise and confusion.

Confusion because they are our ways and not those of the Lord. Our ways that would see us earn our salvation through good works and self-righteousness. Or our ways that would see us beyond salvation through our sin, wrong ways and wasted lives. Two views at opposite ends of the spectrum yet that both join together in their errors and foolishness of how we would do it, or think it should be up and against the truth of Jesus Christ and what he has done.

His truth and peace which Philippians 4:7 tells us “is beyond our human understanding”.

His truths and peace which come differently to how we may imagine, yet come all the same like seen through Naaman’s experience in the reading from 2nd Kings.

Naaman was a national hero, the commander of a successful army. As a fighting man he was admired for his strength and power, and feared by his opponents. But he had been laid low by the skin disease leprosy. Naaman is now a picture of pity. He’ll try anything to get better, but every known cure he tries fails. What a blow to such a mighty man. He is now weak and helpless.

In contrast there is a slave girl who was captured in a war raid on Israel. She works as a maid for Naaman’s wife. This unknown slave from Israel shares her faith in God’s power. She announces that her God could heal Naaman through the prophet Elisha, who lived in her home land of Samaria. It is the simple faith and witness of this girl that changes everything that follows.

Naaman’s wife tells her husband about Elisha the prophet. Naaman is so desperate to be cured he tells the King about this foreign prophet who lives in the land of their enemies. The King sends Naaman off to the King of Israel, loaded with treasures. It shows us the value the King placed on Naaman. The King was rich and would give any amount of gold to have Naaman strong and healthy again. The future of his kingdom depends on Naaman leading the army.

Naaman passes on a letter from his own king to the King of Israel, an old enemy! It read, “With this letter I present my servant Naaman. I want you to heal him of his leprosy.” When he reads the letter the King gets upset. He smells treachery and fear some sort of trap. We read in verse 7:

‘When the King of Israel read it, he tore his clothes in dismay and said: “This man sends me a leper to heal! Am I God, that I can kill or give life? He is only trying to find an excuse to invade us again.”’

Here is a king who knows his limitations and doesn’t like to pretend he is a god, in an age when many kings claimed to be gods. ‘Am I God, that I can kill and give life?’ he asks. Kings had great power. Kings could sentence a person to death. It was accepted as part of the power of a ruler. But only God could give life to a person condemned to die by contracting an incurable disease.

This King can see himself being set up for something treacherous. How delighted and thrilled he must have been to receive a letter from Elisha, the prophet, with the offer to take on the job himself! Elisha writes: ‘Why are you so upset? Send Naaman to me, and he will learn that there is a true prophet here in Israel.’ Elisha will save the nation’s pride! Then we read, ‘So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and waited outside the door of Elisha’s house.’

This foreign commander, a great hero in his day, waits to see what the great prophet of God can do! And Naaman is ready to pay a fortune to experience it. Something great is about to happen. He will see God at work.

Elisha sends out a mere servant with a message telling Naaman what to do: just a servant and not Elisha the great prophet himself! We read in verse 10:

‘But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of leprosy.”’

It is like arranging an appointment to see the top specialist in Australia, and when one gets there the specialist doesn’t even come out to see you, but sends a mere messenger out to tell you to go and wash in a river seven times. Naaman is furious. He is deeply disappointed and feels insulted. Naaman feels he has come all this way for nothing, except to being insulted by Elisha sending out a messenger, when he expected to see God’s awesome power at work in a great prophet.

‘So Naaman turned and went away in a rage.’

Thankfully some officers talk some sense into him and suggest, ‘Sir, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply to go and wash and be cured.’

Verse 14 simply says, ‘So Naaman went down to the Rive Jordan and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his flesh became as healthy as a young child’s, and he was healed.’and Naaman goes back to his home country and worships the living God there.

The Lord might have come differently to how Naaman imagined and “beyond his human understanding”, but he did come and it is a great story to open our eyes to see that even though we may look for peace and salvation in this or that or over there, he still comes to us today in Word and Sacrament to heal us of our affliction of sin by taking the wages of our sin on himself. To be raised on a cross in our sin, that we be resurrected with him in his Holy righteousness. A great story to see how God can work in our lives but an even better story of the Gospel. Naaman, a powerful and respected man yet from the wrong side of the tracks from God’s people the Israelites. Yet through a slave girl that whether directly or indirectly he was responsible for incarcerating tells him of the Lord and with nowhere else to go and with no other options gives it a crack. Through my eyes, hardly the resume of someone deserving the Lord, but thankfully for all the Naamans of this world, for me and you-the Lord sees things differently to how we may.

At the beginning of this message I spoke of people with great gifts, yet underneath it inadequate and failed. Seemingly conflicted but in reality just normal people like you and me. Normal people like you and me condemned by the law of God, yet acquitted by His Gospel in Jesus Christ who came and continues to come amongst that confliction to bring the peace of God that surpasses our understanding.

The confliction of the truth we know of ourselves against the truth of Christ in our lives is our daily walk. A walk that Johnny Cash knew well. A man that broke most of the rules. Yet a man that when at his lowest came to know a loving and forgiving Christ through his suffering friend and wife to be June Carter.

A man brought the truth of God through Christ, yet shown to him through the unspectacular and to a lesser or greater extent that is also our walk. A walk written off by Johnny’s good friend Waylon Jennings:

“I’ve spent a lifetime looking for you

Single bars and good time lovers, never true

Playing a fools game, hoping to win

Telling those sweet lies and losing again.

I was looking for love in all the wrong places

Looking for love in too many faces

Searching your eyes, looking for traces

Of what.. I’m dreaming of…

Hoping’ to find a friend and a lover

God bless the day I discover

Another heart, looking’ for love

When I was alone then, no love in sight

And I did everything I could to get me through the night

Don’t know where it started or where it might end

I turn to a stranger, just like a friend

You came a ‘knocking at my heart’s door..

You’re everything I’ve been looking for..

Now that I found a friend and a lover

God bless the day I discover(ed)

You, you, looking’ for love”.

And there we see the truth. We may look for peace on the mountain top or through the bottom of a glass. We may look for meaning in what we do or in the earthly treasures we can accumulate and we may even look for salvation in our actions and our steadfastness to our Saviour. Yet while “we were looking for love in all the wrong places”, you came amongst them looking for us, and God bless the day we heard you say to us:

“In all your affliction I was afflicted. In my love and in my pity I have redeemed you…and carried you all the days of the past. I the Lord hold your right hand saying do not fear for I help you. So be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid for I the Lord your God go with you and I will not fail you nor forsake you. I have given you a measure of faith, and your faith should not stand in the wisdom of yourself, but in the power of God. For I did not come to condemn you but to save you and whoever calls upon me shall be saved.”

May the peace of God which passes all human understanding keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.