Friday, March 8, 2013

John 8: 33-47

They answered him, ‘We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, “You will be made free”?’

Jesus answered them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there for ever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.’

They answered him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did, but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are indeed doing what your father does.’ They said to him, ‘We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word. You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God.’

Hallelujah! It is fast day again! I know, some of you are shouting for joy while others are just shouting! No fooling, give it a try. Today let me suggest a simple Wesleyan pattern of fasting. As you are able, eat a light breakfast to start the day. Nothing heavy, just something very simple. Think about what most people around the world might eat on any given day. Perhaps a little bread, a bite of something else, and something to drink. Give thanks that your drink will be safe and sanitary!

For lunch, choose (as you are able) not to eat or to eat something quite small. Take the same amount of time to eat but use your time in a spirit of prayer. Do the same with supper. Just set aside time to pray instead of eating your regular meal. Break your fast with another light ‘breakfast’ on Saturday morning. This is not designed to create pain, but to help us highlight the presence of God in our lives.

Now, we can get back to our Scripture. This is an important passage. The overarching message is straightforward. If we belong to God, we will hear what God teaches us so we can behave in godly ways. If we are children of Abraham, then we behave like people of faith. You might want to jump to the Book of Hebrews chapter 11:8 and following to see how Abraham’s faith was expressed.

God wants the same for us. So let’s think about this for a moment. How can we express our faith and give thanks for what God has done for us? This is the core question of a Christian steward. It is central to our being because we have been given gifts. As our faith grows, it become more and more evident that the gifts we have received have actually come directly from God.

As a result of this realization (that everything come from and therefore belongs to God) we want to express our faith accordingly. We want our behavior to match our belief. We want to serve in a godly way. We want to share our resources appropriately. We want all of life to be seen through the eyes of a Christian steward.

I invited you to work toward tithing as we went through this Lenten series. So, how is it going? Did you take the first step? Have you felt good about what you are doing? These are the questions of a Christian steward who wants personal behavior to match a faith that is growing. After all, we are all Christians in the making!

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