Philippians 3:17 to 4:1
17 “My friends, I want you to follow my example and learn from others who closely follow the example we set for you. 18 I often warned you that many people are living as enemies of the cross of Christ. And now with tears in my eyes, I warn you again 19 that they are headed for hell! They worship their stomachs and brag about the disgusting things they do. All they can think about are the things of this world. 20 But we are citizens of heaven and are eagerly waiting for our Savior to come from there. Our Lord Jesus Christ 21 has power over everything, and he will make these poor bodies of ours like his own glorious body.
1 Dear friends, I love you and long to see you. Please keep on being faithful to the Lord. You are my pride and joy.”
You’ve probably heard the one-liner: “I tell ya, I get no respect. Taught my dog to roll over and play dead; the dog died on me. I tell ya, I get no respect.” We laugh at many of those punchy, one-liners. Yet, there seems to be some nuggets of truth in some of them.
As Christians we sometimes get “no respect” from those who have never experienced the love of Jesus Christ. In this second reading from this Sunday’s Lectionary, we see that Paul is addressing the people he loves and cares for.
St. Paul was not one to mince his words when it came to living for Christ. He had been the chief among sinners yet, he had a life changing experience. This was an experience that moved him away from being a practitioner of the Law to becoming a dedicated recipient of God’s grace.
Paul urges his people to forsake the past and to commit fully to the new order in Christ, to forsake confidence in the flesh for confidence in the Risen Lord.
Why do we observe Lent by “giving up” something? It helps us bring our flesh or, desires, under control. You see, Lent is an eight week journey of preparing to live more spiritually successful the rest of the year. The Lord gives us an opportunity every year to have a time of Practiced Behavior Modification.
We can choose to be trivial about such things or, get serious and prepare our lives for the eternity that we all face. Jesus has promised that He will return and return He will. Even the Sufi Muslims believe Jesus will return. We have some in the Christian community that deny His Second Coming because of their unbalanced theological leaning.
We can choose to believe what we read in scripture and that which the fathers of the early church have written or, we can choose to ignore the warnings and go about life as though nothing will ever happen. That happened during Noah’s day just before the great flood. We also read that Lot and his family escaped from Sodom and Gomorrah before it was destroyed.
I plead with you during this Holy Season, surrender to the Lord. Prepare for escape from the judgment that is yet to come.
Our world is changing as is the church. Pope Benedict has just resigned. That hasn’t happened for about 600 years. There are those who say the next Pope may well be more liberal than his predecessor and that may open the door for changes that could be construed as not following the church’s teachings. That is yet to be seen.
All of that is yet to be seen. The bottom line here is to BE PREPARED for whatever comes your way. This is the time to prepare for the eternity you will one day face. Will it be Heaven or Hell? The choice really is YOURS.
Martin Luther said: Every man must do two things alone; he must do his own believing and his own dying. The choice is yours to make for YOU. If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, try Jesus.
The Most Rev. Michael Layne, PhD, ThD is a Bishop in the Lutheran Orthodox Church and can be reached at 812-614-2160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Philippians 3:17 to 4:1
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