RE Verse reading–Mark 10:35-45; John 13:12-17; James 2:14-17 (day two) If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

My first HS job in Texas was at O’Connor High School here in San Antonio. The head band director and Fine Arts Chairman was Wally Dierolf. Most of you know that 5A band directors rank almost equal to 5A football coaches; it is a loft position at the school. Even though he had 400+ students and the largest program in the district, every day at lunch he would take brown paper bag and sit on the floor at the front of the “M” building to make sure no one entered the building during those lunch periods that wasn’t supposed to be there. He could have easily requested another duty, and frankly could have requested to not have one at all. He did this lunch duty so that the rest of the fine arts teachers could have a break. He worked so we could rest. He sacrificed so that we could do our jobs better.

He was a tremendous band director, but I will never forget the lessons of servant leadership that he learned from Jesus and taught to me.

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The cup of Christ

RE Verse reading–Mark 10:35-45; John 13:12-17; James 2:14-17 (day one) “You do not know what you are asking for. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?. . .The cup that I drink you shall drink. . .but to sit at my right hand is not mine to give.” (Mark 10:38-40) When Jesus spoke of suffering, He often used the metaphor of a cup.  Contemplating the cross, He said, “Father, if you are willing, remove this CUP from me.” (Luke 22:42)  Same picture when James and John come asking for places of honor and fame.  True greatness is not found in avoidance of pain,  a privileged life above the ordinary stresses of the common man.  The true measure of a great person is to bear suffering for the good of others.  Those who follow Christ must expect difficult assignments, hard-to-drink cups.   Good to know that the Lord drank His cup before asking the same courage of us.  It was (is) the door to greatness.

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Repentance and forgiveness

RE Verse reading–Psalm 24:1-6; Ephesians 5:1-16 (day seven)  Preparing for worship today, I came across Luke 24:46-47.  “Thus it written, that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead. . .and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations.”  The words of the Lord speak to my heart, remind me of His unchanging message.  Forgiveness is predicated on repentance!  For sexual sin or any other kind, repentance is the condition of God’s offered mercy.  “What strange kind of salvation do they desire who care not for holiness. . .They would be saved by Christ and yet be out of Christ in a fleshly state. . .They would have their sins forgiven, not that they may walk with God in love, in time to come, but they may practice their enmity against Him without any fear of punishment”–Walter Marshall.  I am praying for the Spirit of God to help us this morning as we seek Him together.

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Protecting the brand

RE Verse reading–Psalm 24:1-6; Ephesians 5:1-16 “Do not let immorality or any impurity or greed be NAMED among you.” (Ephesians 5:3)  Does Paul seem concerned with the reputation of the Ephesian church?  Do Christians have some responsibility to manage  how we are perceived?  When the subject is sin, the answer is yes.  Immorality and impurity and greed (three words describing the same subject) in the lives of individual believers it is a bad thing.  The hurtful rumor in the community that the church is tolerant of it or afraid to confront it is worse.  All of us have been baptized “in the NAME of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”  When His Name is at stake, we must act with intelligence and courage. ”But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who . . .leads people astray, so that they commit acts of immorality.”  (Revelation 2:20)  Lord, make us tender with sinners but fierce defenders of your Name.

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Re: Verse reading- Psalm 24:1-6; Ephesians 5:1-16 (day five)  Ephesians 5:1 “Therefore be imitators of God… walk in love, just as Christ ”

Spiritual Disciplines- What’s the point?  What’s the goal?  What’s the “payoff’”?  Answer…   FREEDOM

Skilled musicians, world-class athletes, expert carpenters, and well-prepared students all demonstrate the “freedom thru discipline” principle.  They have a freedom to entertain, exhibit, and excel that others do not.

What about the Freedoms in the Disciplined Christian Life?  Freedom to understand and apply Biblical Principles- by memorizing and studying Scripture.  Freedom from spiritual insensitivity- by fasting.  Freedom from self-centeredness- by service and worship.  Freedom from guilt, anger, and consequences- by practicing purity.

The Freedom found in a spiritually disciplined life is:  The capacity to recognize and accomplish what God calls us to do, and the opportunity to imitate and display the character qualities of Christ and to glorify God through our own personalities.

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Be Wise

Re: Verse reading- Psalm 24:1-6; Ephesians 5:1-16 (day four) Salvation is not passive…we do not accept God’s gift of grace and then sit back to enjoy the fruits.  We surrender our lives.  “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.(Galatians 2:20)  As a result of our surrender, we seek to live a life that imitates Christ.  Imitation means that we look like Him.  There are things we do…walk in love, keep clean hands, maintain a pure heart, give thanks.  There are things we don’t do…no immoral behavior, no filthiness or coarse jesting, no idolatry, no deceitfulness or disobedience.  When we are imitators of Christ, His life shines through us to a lost world.  Walk like Christ and be wise!

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Re: Verse reading – Psalm 24:1-6; Ephesians 5:1-16 (day three)
“Wake up, sleeper.”  As a sleeping person knows life only in a dream instead of as it actually is, so a person untaught by Jesus Christ knows only fleeting images of good and love and beauty, and not those things as they actually are.  Consider the words of C.S. Lewis: “Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

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Re: Verse reading – Psalm 24:1-6; Ephesians 5:1-16 (day two)
But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light.

Just having returned from the land of the midnight sun, I certainly have a new appreciation for light. If you have ever spent time in the far north where you get 16, 18, 20 or more hours of sunlight a day, it changes you. I saw a child’s birthday party happening in a city park…at 9:45 at night!! But there it made sense. The sun was up, and you wanted to be out and in it. I couldn’t believe the amount of energy I had at 11:00 PM, simply because there was light.

When things are visible and seen they have energy from the light that shines on them. This is the same for us. When Jesus’ light shines on us, the darkness is driven away and we are made visible. Be in the light!

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Purity – The road less traveled

Re: Verse reading – Psalm 24:1-6; Ephesians 5:1-16 (day one) 
“For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”–Jesus (Matthew 7:14)

In Ephesians 4 and 5, the Bible gives moral instructions.  Spiritual requirements. These two chapters (with other portions of God’s word) point to a path of purity from sin and issue a call for every believer to walk this path in obedience and blessing.  Many subjects are addressed.  Honesty–v 25.  Anger–v 26.  Stealing–v 28.  Hurtful language–v 29.  Sexual immorality–5:3ff.  All component parts of the “new life” that God gives us in Christ by the Spirit, and all difficult to teach in an age of moral ambiguity.  Many in this generation resist this teaching as “legalistic” or ”rule-focused”.  I imagine the same was true in Paul’s day.  More to say as the week comes.  “Two roads diverged in a narrow wood, and I–I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”–Robert Frost

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A glorious death

RE Verse reading–Luke 11:1-13; Luke 18:1-8 (day seven)
“Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones who CRY to him day and night?” (18:7)  “And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down on the ground.” (Luke 22:44)  Prayer, for Jesus, was a kind of death.  Painful.  Physically exhausting.  It will be the same for us, I believe.  A death to impatience as we wait on God, a death to pride as we depend on His power, a death to dishonesty as we openly confess our sins.  I labor, sometimes, under the false expectation that the spiritual life should be convenient and easy, accessible even to the most casually interested applicant.  It was not so for Jesus and unlikely to be so for those of us who love Him and want to share His Spirit. Easy?  No.  Powerful?  Yes.  ”It is in dying that we are born to eternal life”–St. Francis

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