Sunday Devotional: Titus 3:4-7

“But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love
for mankind appeared,
He saved us—
not by works of righteousness that we had done,
but according to His mercy,
through the washing of regeneration
and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
He poured out this Spirit on us abundantly
through Jesus Christ our Savior,
so that having been justified by His grace,
we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.”  (Titus 3:4-7)

In conversations this week I was reminded again of God’s grace on each one of us.  It is by God’s grace we have the opportunity to be forgiven our our sins.  It is not by anything we can do to earn salvation.  Jesus did all the work on the cross to pay for our sins.  He’s the one that makes us justified before the Father.

And the scandalous thing is this grace is open to anyone and everyone who repents and believes.  In God’s lovingkindness and mercy, He offers this grace and mercy to any and all.  He pours out this grace and mercy abundantly to all people.  No matter how sinful, if one only repents of their sins and trusts Jesus as Lord and Savior and follows Him, salvation is there.

This week, let us remember how much we have been blessed.  We have been blessed by a loving and merciful God who has shown us much mercy and grace.  We have been blessed that we have someone in Jesus Christ, who knows what we’re going through and loved us so much to die for our sins and gave us the opportunity for new life.  And we are blessed with the Holy Spirit to remember these things and to help us to keep pressing on being faithful to the calling of following Jesus.

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Sunday Devotional: Luke 19:45-48

“He went into the temple complex and began to throw out those who were selling, and He said, “It is written, My house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves!”

Every day He was teaching in the temple complex. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people were looking for a way to destroy Him, but they could not find a way to do it, because all the people were captivated by what they heard.” (Luke 19:45-48)

Most people know these verses for the cleansing of the Temple which Jesus did during his last week before His crucifixion.  That is important because the temple was where worship was supposed to take place but there were money changers and others that were taking advantage of people and pushing out real worship taking place.

But look at the next couple of verses.  Jesus that last week would spend every day teaching in the temple.  And while this didn’t please the chief priests and scribes, the people gathered daily to hear Jesus teach.  They crowds were “captivated by what they heard.”  We should have that kind of heart and desire.  We should be people that are drawn to hear what Jesus has to say to us every day through our time reading Scripture, through our prayer time, through times throughout the day that the Holy Spirit speaks to us.

This week, let us desire to have hearts like that.  Let us be like the crowd that gathered to hear Jesus teach in the temple.  Let us be a people that are captivated by what we hear from the Lord.

Communication: Thoughts on “Arrival”

This week I picked up Arrival on Blu-Ray.  I saw the film in theaters back in November and in my “year in review” for my favorite films of 2016 said this was my film of the year.  So needless to say I was excited to watch it again (as well as all the special features documentaries).

Arrival poster

At the heart of this film is communication.  Communication between humans and aliens.  Communication between humans to each other.  The importance of having good communication.  How bad communication can be ineffective or disruptive.  Communication can be something that unites or it can be something that divides.

The main character of the film is a linguist.  Dr. Louise Banks (played by Amy Adams) is called in by the Army to help with trying to communicate with the aliens.  She is able to connect with the heptapods and after many times of meeting and struggling is able to develop a line of communication with them.  It takes time and patience to understand even the basic things that the heptapods are trying to communicate.

Louise also has to communicate with the Army to tell them why she has to be so basic with the heptapods at the start.  One scene that was apropos was when she writes on the whiteboard at the base “What is your purpose on Earth?” and then goes into description of how each word has to be understood (as well as understanding what a question is) before being able to ask the question to get an appropriate response.  But through the course of the film Louise and Ian Donnelly, a theoretical physicist (played by Jeremy Renner) are able to establish communication with the heptapods “Abbott” and “Costello”.

Arrival Louise and Ian

But it’s not just communication between the humans and the heptapods important in the film, communication between humans to each other is important.  We see the struggles between the Army and Louise and Ian.  We see it between different countries as they are sharing (or not sharing) info with their encounters with the heptapods.  We see it with the media reporting the news.  The disconnection between different countries almost lead to aggression and even to the bring of war.

We live in a world today where there is instant communication.  The internet and social media has connected people around the world in ways that were not imaginable a generation ago.  But even with this advancement in communication, there is a lot of miscommunication.  We can turn on the TV or turn on our computers and see a huge disconnect in people communicating with one another and that can lead to people getting hurt.

Even though Arrival is science fiction, there is a lot of truth in it.  We as humans long to connect with others.  But really connecting with people takes time and it’s messy because we’re broken.  Our sin makes us broken.  To really communicate is to open oneself up and share themselves.  Many times we’re scared to do that because in our vulnerability we are worried people will take advantage of that and hurt us.  It takes a level of trust to be open in communicating with someone and that comes through relationships.  Louise built a relationship with “Abbott” and “Costello” which by the end of the film not only affected her but the entire world and the heptapods as well.  She trusted the heptapods but that didn’t come overnight.  It took time and work and also sacrifice.  But in the end, that trust led to better communication.

Arrival is a very timely film and one that gets to the heart not only of who we are as people but what it means to be human.  To be human both in our virtues and our flaws.  The beauty in how God created us and the sin which hinders and hampers us.  How we struggle to communicate with one another and how that affects our relationships with one another and how we’ve been given a gift (in Jesus Christ) that can unite all people together.

I said before it was my film of the year last year and seeing it again reminds me not just how good it is as a film but how thought provoking it is.  It is a good reminder that communication is key and we all could do a better job of it.

Thursday Quote Day: Tommy Lasorda

In honor of Spring Training starting up this week, this week’s “Thursday Quote Day” features a quote from Hall of Fame player and manager Tommy Lasorda:

“No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.”(Tommy Lasorda)

Sunday Devotional: 1 Peter 4:7-11

“Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer. Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:7-11)

Peter wrote these words to fellow believers in one of his letters to the churches.  These verses are a part of the end of the letter as he is beginning to wrap up his thoughts.

There are many passages that deal with how to handle the “end times”.  Some of them are prophetic of the actual “day of the Lord” and some are more of the times that are to signal the “day of the Lord”.  This is one of those passages that’s the latter.  Peter is telling the readers (and in turn telling us) that we should be prepared for when the Lord returns.

How are we to prepare?  First, we need to be all about prayer.  Praying to God giving thanks, praying for strength to endure, praying for others and their needs.  We need to be praying.  Second, we need to show love to one another.  Peter says to “maintain an intense love”.  In the world right now we see hate permeate.  But we know that God is love and when we are connected to Him then we are able to love one another better.  Third, our words and actions should reflect the Father.  We are here to advance the Kingdom of God and proclaim the Good News.  Our words and actions should be all about that.

In these times now more than ever, let us be about praying, let us be about loving, let us be about serving and let us be about sharing the Good news of Jesus.