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May 8 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

May 8, 2022

Welcome and Opening Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Good morning!  In honor of this special day, I would like to celebrate all of you, in every way you that you mother, nurture, and support the growth and well-being of a child, another creature, of creation itself.
May the Lord be with you. 
Thank you, Jim, for reviewing the historical robustness of contemplative Christianity last week.  We do have a rich history and some treasured books, authors, and practices that we can lean in to.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how we all seem to be experiencing separation, and I think I’ve found a connection point.  Whatever happened to humans in the biblical story of Adam and Eve, one thing I think we can agree about is that we do feel separated:  alienated from God, isolated from other people, and even say to myself, “Get it together, Nancy!” Ken Wilber calls this the great optical illusion of separateness. 
Personally, I picture this is the great shattering of the mirror that was meant to give us a true reflection of ourselves, but now we see everything with only a disconnected shard of glass.  We are made to reflect the image and likeness of God, to see ourselves in the faces of our neighbors, friends, families, even our enemies, to know that we are connected to all of creation, and to know wholeness even inside ourselves.  It is said that we mostly see ourselves through the trance of our personality.  Have you ever asked yourself, “Who am I?”? 

So, this is where I see a contemplative opportunity for connection. As we are present to God in silence and stillness, we can enjoy a True mirror.  We take a long, loving look at The Real ; we gaze at Beauty and Truth.  From Ignatian Spirituality, I read something I loved; I quote, “When we take a long, loving look at the real, we see the vast landscape of divine mercy, grace, and fruitfulness into which our single lives are planted. We contemplate our experience within God’s larger gaze, which shines over every moment of every day. In the safety of that loving gaze—as God takes a long, loving look at us—we can grow courageous enough and hopeful enough to look honestly at this moment, this problem, this hurt, or this dream. As God contemplates us, we can contemplate ourselves and know that we, even here and now, are loved and beautiful.”  So, my thought is that, by the Spirit, we are charged with literally re-membering ourselves by the grace of God, by the gaze of God.  This is our practice now.  But there will be even more:  from 1 Cor. 13:   For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  Our journey, as I see it, is from a Shattered Mirror to a Reflective Mirror to then–Face to face.

Today’s Prayer comes from Thomas Merton’s (Jim recommended him to us last week).  It is a Prayer of Unity from his Asian Journal : 
Oh God, we are one with You. You have made us one with You. You have taught us that if we are open to one another, You dwell in us. Help us to preserve this openness and to fight for it with all our hearts. Help us to realize that there can be no understanding where there is mutual rejection. Oh God, in accepting one another wholeheartedly, fully, completely, we accept You, and we thank You, and we adore You, and we love You with our whole being, because our being is in Your being, our spirit is rooted in Your spirit. Fill us then with love and let us be bound together with love as we go our diverse ways, united in this one spirit which makes You present in the world, and which makes You witness to the ultimate reality that is love. Love has overcome. Love is victorious. Amen.

Morning Talk: chuck smith, jr.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him Colossians 3:17

Intro: Paul begins this sentence with a three-letter word: “AND”

We have made our way through his list of virtues,
– we have seen how he wrapped the virtues in love
• we paid close attention to what he said regarding:
the word of Christ and the peace of Christ
• now we come to the last verse in this section of Colossians,
◦ where the climax of his thought begins begins with AND
– Paul hasn’t finished all he had to say, his thought is incomplete
• AND there is something else that is too important to leave out

I remember discovering how this verse is relevant to worship

I had combed through the entire Bible studying worship
– I read more than a dozen books on worship; mostly theology
• in the previous verse Paul coached the Colossians on the use of music (to teach and counsel each other)
◦ for first fifteen centuries of church history,
◦ theology was ingrained in the hearts and minds of believers through hymns
(an ever deeper knowledge of God deepens worship as well)
– anyway, one day as I read Colossians 3, it occurred to me, Paul is saying,
• “Make your whole life a continuous act of worship”
• it is another take on what he says in Romans:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers [and sisters], by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship (Ro. 12:1)

This is Paul’s A-N-D – the capstone to his message about putting off the old self and putting on the new self
– for Paul, the outcome of every truth, every revelation is worship — and his thoughts about God take him there on occasion
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen (Ro. 11:33-36)
• the word “worship” covers every sort of interaction with God
◦ including prayer, praise, receiving his word, and doing his will
◦ everything comes back to God as our service of worship
– the most important word in scripture regarding worship is this:
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth (Jn. 4:24)
• is it alright if when I worship I follow a written liturgy? Yes
◦ can I worship God with music? Yes
◦ can I worship God by lighting candles or incense? Yes
◦ can I surround my worship with sacred art? Yes
◦ can I keep a holy Sabbath as a day of worship? Yes
◦ does worship include a sermon and offerings? Yes, yes, yes
• but all these forms of worship have been relativized
(you see, the answer to each question could also be, No!)
◦ what is essential is that we worship in spirit and truth
◦ the where and the how are subordinate to spirit and truth
• if someone has to ask, “How do I worship in spirit?”
◦ the answer is,
“You cannot know, because you cannot see the kingdom of God unless your are born again;
unless you’ve taken your first drink of living water, first bite of the bread of life. It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.”
◦ once God’s Spirit has us, then all of life can be worship
So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31)

In our verse, Paul specifies “whatever you do” as “in word and deed”

We live in a time when people use words loosely
– we have become casual with rules of grammar
(we ask, “Can I have that last cookie?” when the proper way of asking the question used to be, “May I have that last cookie?”
• and we are too free with insults and profanity
• we also have a strange new vocabulary shaped by our computers and hand-held devices
– when my dad was a child, if he had told his mom that he googled a friend,
• she would have washed out his mouth with soap
• some people worry that computers are becoming too human
◦ maybe we should worry, humans becoming too much like computers
◦ our decisions are driven by calculations and computations rather than common sense and compassion
◦ with computers, the only reliable language is mathematics

There are times when our words really matter
– when the wrong word can break a heart–or a spirit
• in most conversations, I ignore incorrect grammar
(if someone uses a double negative, it don’t make no difference to me)
◦ but what I admire is when a person’s speech is nurturing
◦ if insightful, perceptive, positive, gracious, lovely
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person (Col. 4:6)
• we do not say kind words by accident
◦ but angry, hurtful words can slip out accidently
◦ this does not go well with God
I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned (Mt. 12:36-37)
– David wrestled with this challenge in Psalm 39:
I said, “I will guard my ways,
that I may not sin with my tongue;
I will guard my mouth with a muzzle,
so long as the wicked are in my presence” Still, he slipped (Ps. 39:1-6)
• Paul suggests another way to guard our words
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus
• if you’re interested in reading more on the nurturing and destructive power of words, there is a wealth of wisdom in The Proverbs and James chapter 3

Of course, our words are not our only form of communication

Our deeds speak for themselves,
– and sometimes others don’t hear what we say because actions are so loud
– there has some confusion regarding our deeds that I would like to clarify
• Paul is adamant in Romans and Galatians that we are not saved by our works
◦ God doesn’t accept us because we’re righteous enough, or pious enough, or good enough
For it is by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works (Ep. 2:8-9)
• I’ve heard preachers draw a absurd conclusion, one that I’ve even read it in commentaries
◦ “Good works are good for nothing”
– some Christians use this as excuse for not doing anything to relieve suffering in the world
“Why worry about their poverty, their illness, if they have shelter, or food and water if their souls are going to hell?”
• there is no place for that reasoning in the Christian mind
Jesus: let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Mt. 5:16)
• Paul, Peter, John – all fully agree with Jesus’ teaching
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ep. 2:10)
[Jesus gave himself for us] to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (Titus 2:14)
The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people (Titus 3:8)
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin (Jas. 4:17)
Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God (3 Jn. 11)

There’s a part of this verse that we tend to misunderstand

In the name of Jesus – the way Bible uses “name” is foreign to us
– it doesn’t mean we say his name or label our good works with it
• 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles refer to the temple as a house for the name of the LORD
(Did they build a house for God’s “name” to occupy?)
◦ if a person’s name was spoken, it brought them to mind
◦ think of the name of one of your friends –
can you think of that person’s name without seeing his or her face?
• to say God’s name was to invoke his presence — he was there
◦ that’s why the first words Jesus placed in the prayer he gave his disciples was
Hallowed be your name (or, Let your name be revered)
– they used the word name the way we use the word “person”
• we could say, do everything in the spirit of Jesus
◦ as his representatives, with his love, and his attitude, and his grace
• and the whole while, giving thanks to God the Father through him

Conclusion: Something in the Book of Joshua has always perturbed me

Towards the end he makes his famous announcement:
. . . if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD
(Jos. 24:15)
– the answer from the people is immediate and adamant:
Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods . . . . Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.” (Jos. 24:16-18)
• this is a high point in Israel’s history
• what perturbs me: Joshua pours cold water on it:
But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.” (Jos. 24:19)

Whenever we feel ready to follow Jesus, whatever the cost;
when we think we’re ready to speak only the words of Jesus,
or do only the work of Jesus,
we would do well to hear Joshua’s voice in our ears:
“You are not able”
So, before we leave here,
determined that whatever we say or do will be in the name of Jesus
We need to confess, “I can’t”
then allow Jesus to tell us,
“I know. But I can, and I will”

Apr 24 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 24, 2022



Welcome and opening prayer — Nancy Lopez

Good morning, Welcome to RefleXion            May the Lord be with you!

I have a question:  Is light something we actually see, or do we see because there is light?   Physical seeing or awareness is made possible because of our natural eyes and light.  Spiritual awareness is made possible by spiritual eyes and spiritual light.

I’m intrigued by Jesus post-resurrection appearances and how they didn’t recognize Him, and then they did.  On the first day, that Easter Sunday, He appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other women, to Peter, to two of His followers on the road to Emmaus, and then to 10 apostles (and that was all on the 1st day!).  Eight days later He appeared to Thomas and then later to seven disciples who had gone back to fishing. 

Starting with the women who went to the tomb that first morning, scripture says they went “as the day began to dawn.”  With the seven disciples who had gone back to fishing, the passage begins, “At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach.”

We often use the phrase “It just dawned on me,” right?  Dawn doesn’t suddenly appear–it kind of sneaks up on you. The dawn is a gradual changing of light (when does the dawn begin and end?), and the gospel stories seem to mimic that slow awareness – a hint with the women, brighter still to Mary, a glimmer enough to reorient reality on the road to Emmaus and with the breaking of the bread, more darkness pushed back with the apostles gathered.

It takes a while to learn how to live in this new light, and maybe that is exactly what He was teaching them. Echoing C.S. Lewis, it is not just that we see the light, it is that we are learning to see everything by that light. It takes a while, given our habits shaped by darkness, but, hopefully, we are learning to be more spiritually aware.

Just as every day promises the dawn, let us look for light and see by the light and consider ourselves as those becoming more and more aware of the dawn.  Let’s not be discouraged; let’s just continue in our spiritual awareness practices until we can say, “Oh, I see that now!”

Our opening prayer today is taken from Psalm 57:

Our hearts are confident in you, O God. No wonder we can sing your praises even when darkness seems to abound.   Wake up our hearts! Wake up our music! We will wake the dawn with song. We thank you, Lord and sing your praises among the nations. For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May your glory shine over all the earth.  Amen

Today’s talk — chuck smith, jr.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:15-16

Intro: Whenever you come to instructions in the Bible,

Remind yourself, “I don’t have to do this alone”
– God made us to become these new persons that we are
• and we have to do some of the repairs and maintenance
• however, he doesn’t expect us to do even that part on our own
◦ we can trust Jesus – his burden is light and his yoke is easy
– we’ve learned what to take off (old self with its vices)
• and what to put on (new self and its virtues)
• Paul now tells us what we are to take in

The “peace of Christ” is not an “idea” or empty cliche

There are many churches that preserve the historic tradition of Christian worship
– each week, believers turn to each other shake hands or hug
and say, “The peace of Christ be with you,” and the other person says, “ and also with you”
• this blessing does not come from a priest, pastor, or worship leader
• but it is a spark of divine grace shared between the people present
– imagine how this would change our lives,
• if, as Paul says, the peace of Christ ruled in our hearts

In Mark’s gospel, we learn Jesus and disciples were so busy they had no time to eat
– one evening, to get away from the crowds, Jesus climbed into a boat
• while heading across the “lake,” a windstorm suddenly slammed the surface of the water
◦ waves were breaking over the hull – and the boat was taking on more water than they could bail
• and during all of this, Jesus was in stern, sound asleep
◦ in a hopeless panic, they woke Jesus and screamed over roaring wind,
Teacher, don’t you care that we’re all about to die out here?!
◦ waking up, Jesus stood, looked at them, looked at storm,
and he rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!”
– then he said to the disciples, Why are you so afraid? Where’s your faith?
• what I hear is:
“You didn’t have to wake me up or try to shame me with your ‘Don’t you care?’ I never left the boat. I’ve been here the whole time. Did you see how I can say to waves, ‘Peace!’ and to the wind ‘Hush!’ and they obey me? But when I speak peace to you, you get even more afraid!”
• after the resurrection, when Jesus first appeared to the disciples,
◦ his first words were, “Peace be with you” – but had to say it twice
◦ when something big is coming, how many times does he have to repeat the same words to me?

What does it mean that this peace is “of” Christ?

It comes to us from heaven
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Php. 1:2)
– it is also the peace that Jesus’ presence brought to people
• the assurance of the words he spoke to troubled hearts
• and it was the peace he taught to his followers
– it is also the peace that Jesus himself knew and always had
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you (Jn. 14:27)
• in the gospels, do we ever see Jesus in a mad rush?
◦ does he ever succumb to the pressure of others?
◦ is he ever agitated? uptight? about to fall apart?
◦ no – in fact, Jesus is the “Prince of peace”
• his voice is always calm and reassuring
don’t be afraiddon’t be anxiousyour sins are forgiven
◦ come to me with your heavy load
◦ the Father loves you – you are valuable to him; he cares

At what point do we experience the peace of Christ?
– at the point where whatever peace we have within ourselves gives out
• we don’t need his peace when we’re physically and mentally healthy and all is well
◦ when there’s no war, or pandemic, or crime, or stress
◦ but when our bodies are failing and our world is falling apart, we can receive the peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding (Php 4:7)
• Paul doesn’t say, “Pray for peace”
(I don’t think that’s a wrong prayer, but it’s not what he tells us to do here)
◦ the peace of Christ has already been given to us – it’s already here
◦ he says, Let it rule in your heart

“Rule” translates a word that means to judge, to decide a case
– it was used of umpires who made “the call” in sporting events
• Paul tells us, “In all your stress, let peace make the call”
– I have had moments of overwhelming peace in crisis
• but more and more I’m discovering peace in normal circumstances
◦ times when I would usually stress out or feel anger
• I have never been able to soothe myself with happy thoughts
◦ what I experience now is real

Paul has in mind a specific role for this peace

He talks about our “calling” – our vocation or mission
– it has to do with oneness and with a body (the “church”; Col. 1:24)
• Paul was very concerned that Christians would get along
For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility . . . that he might create in himself one new [person] in place of the two, so making peace . . . . So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God (Eph. 2:14-19)
– this is more than learning to accept each other as we are
• it is taking an active role in reconciling differences
• it is living out the Beatitude of Jesus,
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God (Mt. 5:9)
◦ blessed are those who build bridges rather than barriers

Paul throws in an extra little item: And be thankful

All I’ll say about this, is that to become thankful, we have to practice giving thanks
– there is evidence that thanking God frequently,
• and doing it intentionally and sincerely enough to feel it,
◦ changes the neural activity in our brains
• people experience more gratitude, more peace, more joy
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thes. 5:16-18)

What else are we to take in? “the word of Christ”

I believe this includes the message about Jesus as well as Jesus’ teaching
– more than one passage tells us that it does us no good to dabble in the word
• the very first word of the very first psalm is blessed – Who is blessed? The person whose
delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night
(Psa. 1:2)
◦ that is what it takes take in the word of Christ
• and we do not only give the word a home in our hearts,
◦ but it lives in us “richly”
◦ it comes to us with an abundance
– what comes to mind is Jesus’ story of the four soils
Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty (Mt. 13:8)
(a bountiful yield by any farming standard)
• good soil is free from the problems in other soils that prevented or killed the life of the plant
• last week, woman in one of our Lexio Divina meetings shared something with us,
◦ that she has been in the Scriptures all her life
“But reading it in this slow way, I see things I’ve never noticed before. And sometimes I wonder, Why is this in here? What does it mean?”
◦ when the word enters us like that, and we have to chew on it for awhile, it is making its home in us

What follows this rich indwelling is a wholesome outpouring
teaching and admonishing (counseling) in all wisdom
The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple
(Psa. 119:130)
– early on, believers discovered singing was as important as preaching
• that message and music work together
• the easiest way to memorize scripture is to sing Bible verses
◦ today it is easy to have music with us always–at home, in the car, and on walks

Conclusion: The peace Paul advocates and the word that dwells in us,

Are real and energizing and desirable for one reason,
– because they are “of Christ” – behind the word, peace, there is Jesus himself
Too many Christians are taking the words of Jesus and waging war with them
Paul isn’t saying, “Let’s live in peace and have good Bible studies”
He is reminding us, “We have Jesus! Let’s enjoy what he is to us and what he gives us”
We don’t need religion, or ninety percent of either the religious books being published,
or Christian media (radio, television, YouTube, etc.)
The whole challenge of faith is about finding our way to Jesus
He is everything – and in him we have everything

Apr 17 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 17, 2022



Welcome and Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Welcome to Easter Sunday!  May the Lord be with you!

What a beautiful Cross.  It was beautiful before we adorned it, when it was empty, because an empty Cross and an empty tomb means:
 He is Risen!              He is Risen Indeed!            Hallelujah!

Beautiful and made even more beautiful by our humble offerings of flowers.  I’ve been thinking about the Way of the Cross and what it means to me.

That there’s beauty in the Cross is amazing in itself—a way of death becomes a way of Life, a tool of torture is used as an instrument of Love.  And made beautiful because Jesus made His Way there.  We’re invited to Come, to Follow, this Way.

When we come to the cross, we stand in Solidarity, in Agreement with God’s Way of doing things.  At the foot of the cross, we are in Oneness with God and with all humanity.  It’s a level place; everyone belongs, and everyone is welcome. 

As we travel the Way of the Cross, we are moving in Intimacy, the nearness of the Holy.  We say to the Beloved, “know me, love me.”  He says, “know me, love me.”  And we say that to each other.  We can bring both suffering and joy, because the integration of suffering AND joy is the Way of Jesus, the wholeness of the human experience. 

Walking the Way of the Cross moves me in Transformation.  Jesus proved that the way of the cross is the way of transforming love. It is the power of the resurrected life. And not only at the end, but all the way through, the redeemed, resurrected, restored life.  On the Way, every offering, no matter how small or humble—a decision, a forgiveness, a surrender, a flower– is a Way toward Oneness, Intimacy, and the Power of Resurrection. The main thing is to be on the Way.  Bring what you have.  It will be welcomed here.  Let’s pray:

Lord, you made a Way for us.  Let us Come into Your Presence today, knowing more and more this Way of Love.  Let us Follow.  Let us walk together on the Beautiful Way.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen

Morning talk: Chuck Smith, jr.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 1 Peter 1:3

Intro: Peter is celebrating Jesus’ resurrection

His first line is praise to God (the English Standard Version adds an exclamation mark)
– his specific point is what Jesus’ resurrection means for us
• I’ve been reading in Acts this week and this is the same message Peter and the apostles preached there
• Jesus Christ had been raised from the dead
◦ and doing so, he opened a new way to know God and be right him
◦ Peter preached this in his first sermon, and every speech afterward
“This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing . . . Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they . . . said to Peter . . . , “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself (Acts 2:32-39)
– years later, writing this letter, Peter’s central theme is still Jesus’ resurrection
• Peter indicates that it is written in the biography of every Christian — past, present, and future
◦ we had a past, before we knew Jesus, risen and living
◦ he doesn’t go into it here, but says this about it later
For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry (1 Pe. 4:3)
• here in chapter 1 he celebrates our future
. . . to an inheritance that is imperishable, undeviled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed (verses 4-5)
◦ and then describes our present lives
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls (verses 6-9)

Jesus’ resurrection seems like is a lovely theme for spring time

The earth, that goes barren in winter, comes back to life in spring
– so also, Jesus who suffered a gory death, descended into earth,
• and rose from the grave in a glorious new life
◦ but the analogy ends there
• in fact, the differences are greater than the similarities
– spring is a natural, recurring season
• it belongs to a cycle that repeats every year
• Jesus’ resurrection is an anomaly, a singularity
◦ it happened only once in the history of humankind
◦ and it will happen only once for each of us
Karl Barth, “Resurrection, not progress, not evolution, not enlightenment, but what the word means, namely, a call from heaven to us: ‘Rise up! You are dead, but I will give you life.’”

Peter uses the metaphor of new birth

And he says that we’ve been born again into a living hope
– everything about our Christian experience is alive
• but this is not the same as our biological experience
◦ breathing, consuming, moving, reproducing, and so on
• it is the infusion of God’s life – mouth-to-mouth, as it were
– if all we know in this world is our animal existence,
• then we haven’t experienced what Peter is talking about
◦ there is another heartbeat in the universe,
◦ another breath, another sound, another touch
• if we never feel it, sense it, catch a glimpse of it,
◦ then we are homo sapiens and nothing more
◦ there’s a dynamic energy to resurrection life that few people know

When I stepped into ministry, I had not considered what it meant

It didn’t occur to me that I would be considered a pastor
– I only knew that the Bible was exciting for me,
• and I could teach it to people who knew less than I
• I didn’t give any thought to being ordained,
◦ until a couple about my age asked me to officiate their wedding
– Glen and Ann are as lovely as any Christians you’ll ever meet
• their lives are so exuberant and joyful,
◦ you would never know both of them are deaf
• I met them when teaching a Bible study in Riverside
◦ this was in an Episcopal church that had asked Lonnie Frisbee to begin youth group
◦ Lonnie left and it was passed on to Ken Gulliksen, and then me, and I was followed by Greg Laurie

Spending time with Glen and Ann, I learned his story
He was cruising Riverside with friends, when they saw cars crowded with teenagers pulling into a parking lot. They decided to check out what was going on, but when they noticed they were carrying Bibles, they began making fun of them, flicking cigarette butts at them, Glen said. His friends left to find something more entertaining, but out of curiosity Glen entered the church and stood in the foyer that was separated from the main sanctuary by a windowed wall. He was watching Lonnie speak, but had no idea what he was saying. Glen was suddenly gripped with a terrifying panic. He burst through the doors of the sanctuary and ran down the center aisle toward Lonnie, screaming the whole way. The crowd of about 300 teenagers immediately reacted to this and began murmuring. With Glen weeping on the floor at his feet, Lonnie held up his hands and told everyone to calm down. Then lifting Glen up by his shoulders, he explained, “This man is under the conviction of the Holy Spirit.” And then, in front of everyone, Lonnie led Glen to faith in Jesus.

People have asked whether there can be another revival like the Jesus Movement
– even now, seminaries are sponsoring research to investigate and explain it
• there are all sorts of factors – sociological, timing, “spiritual” experimentation with hallucinogens
◦ but what stands out in my memory is this,
◦ hippies were reading the Book of Acts as if it were written for today
– they believed the same Holy Spirit lived in them and was guiding them
• they believed the Spirit would speak through them
◦ it was definitely an apocalyptic time
◦ it made sense to leave world behind, to live in communes, sharing all things in common
• they were ready to go wherever the Spirit carried them
◦ and many were carried all over the world
◦ for them, born again was the dynamic energy of resurrection life

But now we have become educated, sophisticated, rational
– our tools are technological and systematic, marketing and management
– we have been domesticated, house-broken and neutered
• and the radical movement got buried under the institutions we built

What does it mean to live in the resurrection?

It is an empowered life
– but we must not romanticize this
• it is not an endless stream of happy thoughts, platitudes, positive thinking, or chicken soup for the soul
• after his resurrection, Jesus had a private conversation with Peter
◦ the Lord told him,
Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go (Jn. 21:18)
◦ this is resurrection life – we are taken into encounters we did not choose
◦ into the hardships of the lives of other people,
experiencing the desperation of their need,
and the darkness of their spiritual oppression
– this is not always fun, but it is right

Conclusion: Let’s check for signs of resurrection life

Let’s take our temperature, check our pulse and blood-pressure
– are we living the resurrection life?

Well, you are here this morning
– you could have chosen to be somewhere else
• a family gathering – a neighborhood Easter egg hunt
• you could have attended a place where Easter is a big production
◦ and the resurrection certainly deserves a big production
◦ the biggest
– but you chose to come here,
• and that in itself is a statement

When Paul wrote to Christians in Rome, he told them,
I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers [and sisters], that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another (Ro. 15:14)
– I know that this is also true of you
• I have learned from you, received counsel from you
◦ my experience of Jesus has been enriched by your insights
◦ even your questions have stretched and challenged me
• my spiritual growth would be incomplete if not for our Lexio Divina meetings

Here is the prayer I hear coming from our hearts this Easter morning:

“Father, we are continuing our journey with Jesus, together
The way has been hard
and we have been unsure, hesitant, and weak at times
But we keep getting up and going
We stand and walk, not by our own power
We move on, we pray, we hope, we rejoice,
because You, O Lord,
are faithful to keep us faithful

Apr 10 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 10, 2022



The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. . . .
Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
John 12:12-16, 20-23

Intro: The story of Palm Sunday is told in all four gospels

John’s account is the most streamlined, Luke’s account is the most dramatic
– that is where Jesus warns that if the crowd remained silent, the rocks would cry out
• but prior to any gospel, there was a message hidden the Psalms
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
This is the LORD’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Save us, we pray, O LORD!
O LORD, we pray, give us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!
We bless you from the house of the LORD (Ps. 118:22-26)
note first, the verse about The stone that the builders rejected is quoted in Matthew, Mark and Luke
• and it was quoted during Holy Week following Palm Sunday
second, the cries Save us (Aramaic, Hosanna) and Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,
• were exactly what the people shouted on Palm Sunday
third, the phrase, This is the day refers to a specific day
• this is also important in light of Palm Sunday

Luke tells us that when Jesus drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace!” (Lk. 19:41-42)
– Jesus was saying that something historic was happening in that moment, on that day
• a door had opened, and with it a unique opportunity
◦ if only the people of Jerusalem could see it, they would have peace instead of war
“On this day” the Hosanna prayer could have been answered
“On this day” Jerusalem could have fulfilled its destiny
“On this day” God visited his people, but they did not know
– I have chosen the uniqueness of “this day” for our meditation

You might want to tell me,

“But Palm Sunday is not unique; it comes every year. In fact, it’s all that that special. Palm Sunday was not the main event of Holy Week. It is merely a a prelude. We cycle through it every year, like all the other holidays.”
• it is easy to adopt this cynical view of time
◦ as some say, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”
◦ this is the dreary perspective of Ecclesiastes
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it . . . .
Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”?
It has been already in the ages before us (Ecc. 1:4-10)
• of course someone could argue, “But cell phones are new”
◦ I think the teacher would respond, “You get the latest model of technology and adapt to it, but you stay the same person”
– we are in the fourth month of a “new” year, but how is this year different is it from last year?
◦ how different is the 21st century from the 20th?
• we still go to war, the poor still outnumber wealthy, we’re still vulnerable to greed and every other vice,
◦ and we still do not know the things that make for peace
◦ we still do not know what is hidden in this day

I had a friend, a pastor, who loved books even more than I do
– he frequently recommended to me a book he had read
• every time, he would say, “This book changed my life”
• but his saying that about a book never changed
– visit a cemetery and note the boundaries of every human life
• they are inscribed in stone; two dates, a date of birth followed by a date of death
In Ecclesiastes we read of a poor wise man who saved a small city,
Yet no one remembered that poor man (Ecc. 9:15)
◦ it’s like we’re swimming in the ocean and we create a small wake,
◦ but the water closes behind us and leaves no evidence that we were ever here

Ecclesiastes has other messages regarding time

For instance:
[God] has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end (Ecc. 3:11)
– the word “eternal” is a concept small enough to fit in our brains
• but its meaning is beyond our ability to grasp
◦ Hebrew, olam means “hidden” – imagine moving back into past,
◦ we reach a point where our imagination gives out
• the same thing happens when you stretch into future
◦ beyond the extinction of our universe — what then?
◦ we cannot imagine nothingness – only some thing
– there’s a line in the Psalms worth contemplating
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! (Psa. 41:13)
• if I may digress for a moment, I prefer “everlasting” to “eternal”
◦ it may seem like there’s no difference or little difference
• still, something may be eternal, yet have a quality that doesn’t last forever
◦ like chewing a stick of gum – you can chew for hours,
◦ but the flavor lasts only a minute

God allows us a sense of eternity, but he puts it in our hearts
– I’m tempted to say, he does this just to mess with us
• eternity is not like time
◦ time can be measured – seconds, minutes, hours, etc.
◦ eternity cannot be measured
• without beginning or end, there’s no point to begin a measurement
◦ if we say, “Let’s begin with right now,” – eternity is always right now
– eternal life is a different kind of life than we’ve known
• it is not our normal experience of passing through days and years

Now let’s return to the first Palm Sunday

Greek tourists were there who requested an audience with Jesus
– what is his response?
The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified
or, this is the day if you will
• John mentions Jesus’ hour several times in his gospel
◦ the first time was with his mother, “My hour has not yet come” (Jn. 2:4)
◦ later with his brothers, “My time has not yet come”kairos
• a couple of times when religious leaders wanted to arrest him,
◦ they could not, because his hour had not yet come (e.g., Jn. 7:30)
– but now, on this Palm Sunday, his hour had come

What John is telling us is that a moment arrived unlike any other
– it is different, because it did not belong to the normal flow of time
• the world of nature did not produce it – nor any human agency
• the hour is unique, because in it eternity intersects with time
– such hours belong to God entirely
• and no one knows them except the Father, not even the Son (Mt. 24:36)
◦ God has these hours perfectly timed — as Paul pointed out:
at the right time Christ died for ungodly (Ro. 5:6), at the proper time his word was manifested (Titus 1:3)
• these “hours” in Jesus’ life did not consist of a literal sixty minutes
◦ the hour of Palm Sunday was the same hour in which Good Friday occurred
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own . . . he loved them to the end (Jn. 13:1)

Jesus’ last night with disciples, he spoke of yet another hour

I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father (Jn. 16:25)
– all through John, Jesus used figures of speech–and they were misunderstood
• he used his disciples’ confusion to reveal God’s “higher thoughts”
◦ it’s the difference between the “earthly things” and “heavenly things” that he tried to teach to Nicodemus (Jn. 3:10-12)
• when did that hour come? Maybe in what Jesus did for his disciples in Luke 24:44-47
• or maybe when he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit”
– I don’t know, but it’s exciting to think of a graduation day,
• when Jesus will speak plainly of God and the things of the Spirit and we will understand him

In his last prayer Jesus prayed, the hour has come and I have manifested your name
– how did he manifest God’s name?
• not by revealing a new name in Hebrew, Greek, or any other language
• and not be reminding them of an old name,
◦ but by a revelation of the eternal name: Yahweh, I am
◦ everyone else phases through was, is, and will be — God is eternally IS
– Jesus made God’s person known, by being I am among them
before Abraham was, I am (8:58)
• he revealed God by speaking the words of I am, doing works of I am, loving his disciples with love of I am
• what disciples received wasn’t information – rational or theological knowledge
◦ but a relational knowledge – they came to know the Father through the love of the Son
[those] who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love [them] . . . . If anyone loves me, he [or she] will keep my word, and my Father will love him [and her], and we will come and make our home with [them] (Jn. 14:21-23)

Conclusion: Palm Sunday is either everything or it is nothing

This hour of Jesus, becomes our hour of hope
Karl Barth, “in [Jesus] time and eternity meet. . . . Hence everything depends on this, that Jesus Christ speaks to us who pass on with the fleeting times. There are [people] and times to whom Jesus Christ becomes manifest.”
This may be one of those times
and if so, we can be those people
Heaven is breaking into this hour – can we wake ourselves up?
How can we wake ourselves up?
By moving slower
and paying attention
By pausing to take a deep breath
and then look, listen, taste, smell, feel

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
This is the day that the Lord has made!

Apr 3 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 3, 2022



And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony Colossians 3:14

Intro: Preparing this talk was difficult

Not because there is nothing to say about love
– we could line the freeway from here to San Diego with books and papers written on love
• clinical studies, philosophical essays, poetic explorations,
◦ not to mention all the books by religious authors
• but all this information has made little impact on our nation
– maybe it was just a tough week week for me – too much exposure to sorrow,
• but it feels like love has reached an all-time low in the world

When mulling over this verse, a song came to mind

It is from the musical, “Jesus Christ Superstar”
(this play debuted at the climax of the hippie peace and love revolution)
– Jesus has been arrested and Mary Magdalene and Peter are trying to deal with it
Mary: “I’ve been living to see you
Dying to see you, but it shouldn’t be like this
This was unexpected; what do I do now?
Could we start again please?
Could we start again please?
I’ve been very hopeful so far
Now for the first time, I think we’re going wrong
Hurry up and tell me this is all a dream
Or could we start again please?
Could we start again please?
Peter: I think you’ve made your point now
You’ve even gone a bit too far to get your message home
Before it gets too frightening, we ought to call a halt
So could we start again please?
Could we start again please?
• they’re praying for a do-over, a second chance
◦ they followed Jesus all the way to Gethsemane,
◦ but now the journey has taken a sudden turn
• they want God to rewind history and produce a different outcome
– that’s how I feel regarding love
• we have crucified love repeatedly through the ages
◦ nailed it to the cross of greed, narcissism, and betrayal
◦ we need a cosmic reboot
• could we start again please, and maybe get it right this time?

Looking at verse 14, this is the third time Paul says “Put on”

The first time was in verses 9 and 10,
we have put off the old self with its practices and put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator
– Paul works with this idea of the old and new self in several letters
• in Romans 6-8, the contrast is living according to the flesh (old self) or Spirit (new self)
◦ flesh is our natural self, programmed by others throughout our lives in the world
all our fears and insecurities, anger and lust, disbelief and rebellion
◦ the spirit is our new self, formed and energized by God’s Spirit
• in 2 Corinthians and Galatians Paul looks at same thing from other angles
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17)
◦ the old verses the new
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Gal. 2:20)
◦ not the “I” that has now died “I in Christ,” but the “I” that is now risen with Christ
– the way Paul presents it in Ephesians sounds more like our verse in Colossians
[you have been taught in Jesus] to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ep. 4:20-24)
• so this putting off and putting on is not a fashion statement,
◦ but a fundamental transformation
• your true self is spirit – and we find our true self in Jesus

The second time Paul said “Put on” was in verse 12
– that was where we began talking about the virtues
– today we come to his third use of “Put on”
• here is another addition to our ensemble, but with a slight change
◦ the virtues have to do with how we are with other people
◦ Paul’s focus now is how we are with God:
the peace of Christ, be thankful, and the word of Christ, and so on
• but before that, he brings us to love, which is a perfect transition
◦ because love is intersection of our lives with God and with others
◦ we frequently emphasize the greatest and second greatest commandments:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. . . . You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Mt. 22:36-40)

Paul makes a simple statement about the role love plays

At least it looks simple at first
– biblical translators have a significant challenge
• there’s no exact way to say in English what a Greek phrase meant to the original audience
◦ so they try to help us by using additional words
◦ for instance, there is no Greek word here that means “harmony”
• the NASB translates this phrase, perfect bond of unity, but a Greek word for “unity” is lacking
– a few commentators believe Paul is talking about the virtues being bound together
• if so, love would be like a string that tie the beads of virtue together
◦ that’s lovely, and probably true of love, but it is not what I see here
• love forms the perfect bond – it is our lives that love connects

Although Paul did not use “harmony,” it is a good metaphor

My eleven-year-old granddaughter, Adrianna, is in her school choir
– later this month they will be performing at Disneyland
• she practices in the car to and from school
• sometimes she sings soprano to show me how it goes with the alto part
◦ the soprano and alto parts are harmonized
– harmony is not two voices singing the same note
• but two or three voices singing different notes that work together
◦ you can hear the harmony when right notes are played — the sound is pleasant
◦ if a note doesn’t work, what you hear is dissonance

What happens if you study two people in conversation?
– if you film them and closely observe their movements frame by frame,
• you discover minute movements occurring within milliseconds
◦ facial expressions and body language
◦ these micromovents appear in both the speaker and listener
• William Condon spent a year and a half studying such films and identifying these movements
Condon, “Listeners were observed to move in precise shared synchrony with each other’s speech. . . . Communication is thus like a dance, with everyone engaged in intricate and shared movements across many subtle dimensions, yet all strangely oblivious to what they are doing.”
– I have to remind myself to be a better listener
• what I find helpful, is look into the eyes of the other person
• I become more focused – then if I speak, it’s in harmony with what they have said
◦ otherwise, I spend the time they are talking, thinking about what I’m going to say next

Love is the glue that holds the spiritual community together

Most of us have heard the Greek word, agape
– it is not romantic love that is going to save the world
• it is a love with more breadth and depth
◦ a love that survives without the chemistry of the romantic high
• it is love that forms a nurturing bond
Paul refers to the community as a body and Jesus as the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God (Col. 2:19)
– “ligaments” translates same Greek word for “bond” — the love bond nurtures growth
• I’ve mentioned attachment theory several times before
◦ it has to do with the crucial importance of forming healthy bonds in infancy and childhood
• what about those of us who did not receive that?
Marion Solomon, “Research shows that a good relationship can alter earlier disturbed attachment patterns.”
◦ we can form bonds now that heal our broken selves
◦ in the process, we also bring health to the community

If what Paul says is not our experience where does it break down?

With me, it breaks down when I do not have a love for others that I can sustain
– I think my heart has something like a “love battery”
• when fully charged, I have enough love for everyone
◦ with partial charge, I have less love for people on the periphery or strangers
◦ a dead battery means I love only me; so I’m guarded, defensive, closed-off
• I need God’s grace, because it does not depend on me or my love battery
◦ everywhere that I am small and weak and powerless is a place for God’s grace to enter (cf. 2 Cor. 12:9)
– grace always does something new, something unexpected
• to “put on” love is first to surrender to God’s love
◦ we let him love us, down to our deepest wounds
Henri Nouwen, “. . . we know that everyone who has allowed God’s love to enter into his or her heart has not only become a better human being, but has also contributed significantly to making a better world. The lives of the saints show us that.”
God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Ro. 5:5)

Conclusion: My sixth-grade teacher did me a great disservice in my relationship with my dad

On the last day of my school year, she told him, “I don’t think your son is working to his potential”

I may never live to my potential in anything that I do
But in this one thing, I can live beyond my potential
With the love of God flowing through me,
I can love anyone he brings across my path

Through God’s infinite grace, let’s surrender to love
We want all Christians to put on love,
so God can save the world

Mar 27 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 27, 2022



Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:12-13

Intro: Before fire engines, cities relied on the “bucket brigade”

Volunteers would rush to the scene of a fire and form a human chain
– beginning at a source of water–a well, river, or pond if close by–,
• draw water, and hand the bucket to the first person in the chain
◦ then the bucket would be passed from person to person until poured on the fire
◦ empty buckets would be returned down the chain, filled and passed again
• imagine, that the buckets stopped moving and no empties were returned
◦ someone runs down line to find the problem – and comes to two men just standing there
“I’m not passing the bucket to him. He’s a cheat!”
“I’m not taking a bucket from him. He’s a fraud!”
– in the meantime, the schoolhouse burns down
• if you’re in brigade, no matter what, don’t break the chain!

You and I have covered a lot of ground in the last three or four years
– some of the subjects we’ve looked at include:
• re-wiring brain’s owner’s manual to aid in transformation
• a brief survey of Leviticus to prepare for close study of Hebrews
• what the Bible has to say about the spiritual significance of the body
• what it means to read the Bible as a sacred text
• and we went through 1 Corinthians as a Primer In Things Unseen
– in all of this, we’ve been seeking a greater experience of God
• our journey aims at a clearer and more constant awareness of his presence
◦ as Paul said, our goal is to know Jesus
• but there is an important truth we cannot ignore
◦ we need each other in order to reach our goal
◦ a fully formed life in the Spirit cannot be developed in solitude

Paul continues to expand his virtue list, but with a slight shift

He provides images of how the virtues look in everyday situations
– for instance, last week we went over the virtue of patience
• how does that affect the way I interact with others?
• well, in some instances, I listen closely when I don’t want to
◦ my listening is not motivated by my need to hear the other person,
◦ but by the other person’s need to be heard
– what Paul says in verse 14 turns out to be invaluable
• it is natural to experience tension with others in community
◦ “community” can be home, work, a team, church, etc.
• Paul provides two ways to resolve the most common tensions

We tense up around certain people for a number of reasons
– we have a history with this person
conflict: we had a run-in with this person in the past
abuse: it did not have to be verbal or physical
◦ this person used me, took advantage of me, mistreated me
wasted time: you felt cornered and subjected to boring chatter
weirdness: left you confused or frightened
◦ you realize it would be impossible to please this person
– there is another type of tension unrelated to any specific issue
• “personality conflict” – we don’t need to look for a reason
◦ “There’s just something about that guy that rubs me the wrong way”
• it’s their look, their voice, mannerisms, general style
◦ there may be unconscious reasons
– for whatever reason, you cannot tolerate that person or communicate with them

The first way to resolve the tension is by bearing with one another

There is a general concern we need to share for each other
– the Christian family looks after the welfare of each member
• this is a basic element of decent human behavior
You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep going astray and ignore them. You shall take them back to your brother. And if he does not live near you and you do not know who he is, you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall stay with you until your brother seeks it. Then you shall restore it to him. . . . You shall not see your brother’s donkey or his ox fallen down by the way and ignore them. You shall help him to lift them up again (De. 22:1-4)

Paul doesn’t say you have to be “best buds” with everyone
– you do have to put up with us,
• after all, we have to put up with you too
• at any rate, let’s narrow this down to a feasible size
◦ we don’t have to put up with everyone in the whole world
(it’s okay to “unfriend” abusers and creeps–it’s the safe and smart thing to do)
◦ the circumference of this circle is our spiritual community
– I don’t know how to communicate this effectively
• I just know that even though some people are a little weird,
◦ it’s worth my time to love, accept, and care for them
◦ I sometimes discover a loveable, lonely human being
• it’s up to me to set limits and boundaries, and if I do that up front, there’s no need to apologize when our time is up
◦ I’ve found that anyone can surprise you and everyone’s story is interesting–if you’re willing to listen
Richard Lukas, “There is nothing glib here. Paul well knew the almost unbridgeable gulfs that exist between human beings. . . . But Paul is convinced of the power of Christ, not to bring people together while remaining just what they were before, but to change them so that a genuine meeting of mind and heart is achieved.” “In short, this kind of Christian unity is the result of genuine spiritual revolutions in individual lives, where the old nature with all its prejudices and hatreds is put off, and the new nature is put on.”

The second way to resolve tension is by forgiving each other

Paul prefaces this with, if anyone has a complaint against another
– do I need to say that this does not apply to serious violations?
• the majority of Paul’s first letter to Corinthians,
◦ was his response to complaints from church members
• what he addresses here are the normal irritations and gripes we have with someone
– I appreciate the honesty reflected in this statement
• there is no pretending that we are a fellowship of angels
◦ anyone could have good reason to complain about someone else
• Paul says, that’s as far as it needs to go
◦ forgiveness is a way to make the problem go away
◦ forgiveness is a release – a letting go
◦ the quicker we forgive, the sooner we enjoy peace and freedom
◦ hang onto an issue and it becomes a seed that grows into an obsession

Forgiveness is more complicated than bearing with one another
– it involves a personal interaction – an offense or trespass
• I use trespass intentionally, because Jesus taught us to pray
forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Then he added, For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your father forgive your trespasses (Mt. 6:12, 14-15)
◦ I know Christians who squirm at this
◦ the refuse to believe God’s forgiveness is conditional
• however, there is one condition–and only one
◦ it is not if you prove you’re really, really sorry then you will be forgiven
◦ or walk for a mile on your knees in gravel,
◦ or punish yourself mentally with toxic shame and guilt; never forgiving yourself
– God made our forgiveness conditional,
• so we would have all the reason and motivation we need to forgive

Sometimes forgiveness is impossible
– we cannot even make ourselves want to forgive
• or make ourselves willing to let God make us want to forgive
– but at every point, God is ready to help us
• we have to ask – and he is faithful to work on our hearts,
◦ to walk us step-by-step to perfect forgiveness
• perhaps that’s why Paul uses the model of Jesus’ forgiveness
◦ he knows how difficult it can be to forgive those who crucify us

Conclusion: These virtues are not given us to do on our own

It’s not like we have to use whatever will power we have
– the virtues are not like learning good manners or rules of etiquette
• if that, they would be no more than a supplement to Law
– we have to be aware of, and open to the supernatural energy behind them,
for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Php. 2:13)
God will help us discern whether we need to bear with, or to forgive, or to set boundaries
But overall, our destiny is to build bridges, not barriers

Don’t break the chain!

Mar 20 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 20, 2022



Put on then, as God’s chosen people, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience . . . . Colossians 3:12

Intro: The — word — I’ll — talk — about — today is —-


I remember reading through Colossians many years ago
– in the first chapter, I came across a “power verse”
• what I mean, is a verse that makes a prayer for, or a promise of spiritual energy
◦ for instance, this is what Jesus did for his disciples:
[Jesus] called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases (Lk. 9:1)
Or, . . . you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8)
• Paul told the Colossians he was praying for them
that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of him . . . being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might . . .
◦ at this point I got excited and imagined myself working miracles;
exorcising demons, healing the sick, raising the dead
◦ but reading on, this is what I found
being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy (Col. 1:9-11)
– my immediate thought was, “What a rip-off!”
• I did not want to be empowered for patience

The typical place to begin a talk like this is with the word itself

It is a Greek compound, consisting of two words:
– one means distance (in space or time) and the other means passion (intense emotion, e.g., rage)
• the King James Version provides the literal sense with long-suffering
◦ the patient person must “suffer” discomfort, resisting the impulse to act out, and so on
• patience is the opposite of someone who has a “short fuse”
◦ God’s self-description in Exodus says, he is “slow to anger” (Ex. 34:6)
◦ in fact, we learn this virtue from God’s example–and the example of Jesus
But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost [sinner], Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life (1 Tim. 1:16)
– slow to anger is an important insight into the how of patience works
• it has to do with timing
soldiers who joined King David’s army are described as men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do (1 Chr. 12:32)
Elijah asked his servant Gahazi, Was [this] a time to accept money and garments . . . ? (2 Ki. 5:26)
◦ this rhetorical question assumes the answer is “No”
• do I understand the nature of the times?
◦ do I know what is the appropriate action for this moment?
◦ patience is accepting each moment for what it is and for
what can and cannot be expected from it or what can and cannot be done in it
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted . . . (Ecc. 3:1-8)

There’s a common misconception we need to correct

All my life I’ve heard variations of this advice:
“Don’t pray for patience, because God will send you more trials for you to practice it.”
– this is not faith and it is not even biblical
• it is superstition – like throwing salt over your shoulder
• another problem with this advice
◦ Nancy pointed it out to me this past week when she asked, “What kind of God do they think he is?”
◦ listen to Jesus teach us what kind God the Father is
Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? . . . If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him? (Mt. 7:9-11)
– we can ask God to help us with each of the virtues,
• especially the ones that give us the most trouble

I don’t think you and I need to be reminded of the saying, “Patience Is A Virtue”

In previous generations, this was used as a motivation
– I don’t know if many people are motivated by virtue today
• anyway, being patient with “things” we can’t control is a virtue
◦ traffic, waiting for water to warm up in the shower, elevators, etc.
◦ tp not be jittery with things telling them, “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon”
• patience with things is good,
◦ but patience with people is absolutely necessary
William Barclay [regarding the Greek word makrothumia says], “This is the spirit which never loses its patience with its fellow-men. Their foolishness and their unteachability never drive it to cynicism or despair; their insults and their ill-treatment never drive it to bitterness or wrath.”
Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Scratch the surface of impatience and what you will find lying beneath it, subtly or not so subtly, is anger. It is the strong energy of not wanting things to be the way they are and blaming someone or something. This doesn’t mean you can’t hurry when you have to. It is possible even to hurry patiently, mindfully, moving fast because you have chosen to.”
– we have to be patient with people, because we’re all imperfect
• in Matthew 18, Jesus tells a story about two debtors
◦ one is forgiven, but refuses to forgive debt of the other
◦ the story is not only about forgiveness, but also patience
Both men, in turn, begged, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.”
• why is a person who visits a doctor called a “patient”
◦ because healing requires patience

Patience works relational magic

In the famous “love chapter” of 1 Corinthians,
– this is the first word regarding what love is
Love is patient and kind (1 Cor. 13:4)
• think of that! The first thing love must be is patient
◦ patience is the key to preserving and protecting relationships
◦ patience is how we build and repair relationships
• do you remember what Jesus said was greatest commandment?
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets (Mt. 22:37-40)
And Paul, Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law (Ro. 13:8-10)
◦ St. Augustine applied this insight to the virtues
Augustine, “I hold virtue to be nothing else than perfect love of God.” “Therefore, where charity is full and perfect there will be no remains of vice.”
◦ commenting on this, John Langan wrote,
Langan, “Augustine then understands the moral life of the Christian as the progressive development of charity, which is the one explanatory entity that underlies the activity of all the virtues.”
Notice how this ties all the virtues together in love–as here in Colossians 3:14
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
– if we think of all the virtues as separate items,
• then we might be tempted to focus on one at a time
• but love is a complex mixture of various qualities
◦ like a bowl of fruit
. . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22-23)
– if I think I’m loving well in one virtue, tend to cheat on others
• we hear, “Everyone has a vice” or “Chocolate is my one vice”
◦ but if all virtues are manifestations of love, we can’t skimp
◦ we can’t dismiss the one that seem most difficult or unpleasant

Patience is a path to peace

There are two psalms that express poet’s stress, and both end with:
Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD (Pss. 27:14; 31:24)
– Psalm 40 begins,
I waited patiently for the LORD;
he inclined his ear to me and heard my cry.
• we are frequently encouraged to wait for God
The LORD is good to those who wait for him (Lam. 3:25)
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
the young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint
(Isa. 40:30-31)
• patience protects us from making matters worse
◦ the angry texts we write, but don’t send; the sarcastic rants we don’t post
◦ who knows how much unhappiness and stress we have dodged by keeping our reactions to ourselves?
– if we do not learn patience, the world will drive us mad
• the sun will not rise until it rises, or go down until it goes down
◦ all of our impatience will not hurry its daily journey through the sky
• patience is not resignation, it is not giving up
◦ nor is it doing nothing, but patience is doing what can be done now
◦ patience cannot be forced, but it can be cultivated

Conclusion: The cool thing about patience,

Is that every single day will give us opportunity to practice it
Our bodies will tell us when it’s time to be patient
(Our bodies will tell others when we need to dial down)

When it is time to exercise patience,
let’s remind ourselves, “This is an opportunity to love someone”
An opportunity to love God, love my neighbor, or even love myself

Mar 13 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 13, 2022



Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness . . . . Colossians 3:12

Intro: The first detail to notice, is where we find meekness on list

Meekness is hiding behind humility
– we wonder, was it even necessary to include meekness in addition to humility?
• if we were to be honest, we don’t take meekness seriously
◦ it is a virtue no one wants – like patience or submission
• we read that Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek”
◦ but it doesn’t leave a strong impression on us
◦ it is not as compelling as poor in spirit or mourn
– meek doesn’t draw attention to itself – doesn’t make headlines
• no one asks meek for the next dance
• we want to be the opposite of meek
◦ we’re convinced that “You don’t get anywhere if you let people walk all over you”

Our negative impression of meek is not far from the Old Testament idea

Hebrew, anav: to see oneself in a inferior position or condition
– it was the status of the poor, or servants, or the “afflicted” (physically, mentally, or socially)
• we need to remember, Israel’s pride never failed to produce disaster
◦ what we read regarding King Uzziah is a recurring theme:
But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction (2 Chr. 26:16)
◦ humbling itself was Israel’s was path to restoration
But I will leave in your midst
a people humble and lowly.
They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD (Zeph. 3:12)
• at the same time, God had a special concern for the poor and oppressed
◦ the weak and helpless, such as widows, orphans, and foreigners
– in the Psalms, God grants the poor and lowly special favor
• so the psalmists confess their desperate and depressed situations
◦ they find comfort in poverty and affliction — they knew one day they would be rewarded,
◦ and so learned to live in humble dependence on God
• accepting their lowly circumstances, they found God’s good-pleasure
◦ their attitude has been described as “Triumphant waiting on God”
◦ so it is a tribute to Moses that
Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on face of the earth (Nu. 12:3)

We can certainly learn from the Hebrew Scriptures:
– that regardless of our circumstances, we must put our full trust in God

When we come to the New Testament, meekness takes on a different character

The Greek word suggests something more than a disposition
– it includes the effect a person has on others
• the meek person has a calming, soothing influence
◦ meek could be used in regard to taming animals
◦ the meek was a good-natured person
• meek was a “gentle friendliness” – the opposite of
◦ “roughness, bad temper, sudden anger, or brusqueness” (TDNT)
◦ it softened the edge of sound teaching and correcting others
The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness [meekness] (2 Tim. 2:24-25)
– according to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament,
• in Greek culture meekness was
“a mark of the high-minded and noble, of the cultured, and therefore of the wise, who remains calm even in the face of abuse; Socrates is a model here.”
• the only Gospel that uses this word is Matthew, where it appears three times:
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Mt. 5:5)
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart (Mt. 11:29)
Say to the daughter of Zion,
“Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey . . .” (Mt. 21:5)
TDNT, “with the help of the fulfilled prophecy of Zech. 9:9, the entry of Jesus is depicted as that of a non-violent, non-warlike king of salvation and peace.”

You see, this is a different idea from the current definition of meekness

We think of it as a character quality that is empty – a lack of something
– having no will, no confidence, no fire
• we think meek is static rather than dynamic, idle rather than active
◦ to us, the meek person is almost a non-being, an “extra” on the set of life
◦ present, but easily ignored, overlooked
• the meek person stands down, stands aside, disappears
– for us, meekness doesn’t cut it – meekness looks cowardly
• human nature does not find gentleness compelling
• “gentle warnings” do not inspire compliance

In trying to address this wrong impression, preachers have told us,
– meekness is “power held in check” or “controlled strength”
• in other words, we know that compared to others,
◦ we’re stronger, wiser, better, but we hide it
◦ we act like we are less than what we are in truth
• I think those attempts to rehabilitate meekness miss the point
– meekness is a positive quality
• it isn’t a skill or act, but a character trait
• the meek person epitomizes a peaceful life
◦ they are unflappable, content, free-spirited,
◦ confident of God’s love and care

Our aggressive society sees meekness as a kind of cowardice

But if Jesus was meek, then he gives the word its true definition
– his story is one of strength, of bold claims, and obvious authority
• his enemies perceived him as a serious threat
◦ his followers perceived him as a provider and protector
• we never see him back down, hide in a corner, or run from danger
– Jesus was loving and kind, yes!
• but his love was strong and uncompromising
• Jesus’ life was rigorous and hard,
◦ but his touch was gentle

To be meek is no more or less than having Jesus for our example

Henri Nouwen tells a story about Trevor, a mentally challenged patient he cared for at Daybreak. During a time when Trevor was hospitalized for evaluation, Nouwen asked the hospital chaplain if he could visit him. The chaplain gave Nouwen permission and asked if it would be alright to host a lunch with him with invited guests–local ministers, priests, and hospital staff. Nouwen agreed, and when he entered the cafeteria, the first thing he did was look for Trevor. When he could not find him, the chaplain explained that the staff and patients never ate together and patients were never allowed inside the staff cafeteria. Nouwen said he would not stay for lunch unless Trevor could be there.

So it was that Trevor was sitting next to Nouwen as everyone settled into their places, engaging in small talk. Trevor asked Nouwen to bring him a coke, which he did and soon returned with Trevor’s coke and a glass of wine for himself.
Suddenly, Trevor was on his feet and with a loud voice announced, “Ladies and gentlemen . . . a toast!” Immediately there were anxious looks around the tables. I will let Nouwen tell you what happened next in his own words.

“But Trevor had no worries. He looked at everybody and said: ‘Lift up your glasses.’ Everyone obeyed. And then, as if it were the most obvious thing to do, he started to sing: ‘When you’re happy and you know it . . . lift your glass. When you’re happy and you know it . . . lift your glass. When you’re happy and you know it, when you’re happy and you know it, when you’re happy and you know it . . . lift your glass.’ As he sang, people’s faces relaxed and started to smile. Soon a few joined Trevor in his song, and not long after everyone was standing, singing loudly under Trevor’s direction.”
“Many people feel cursed—cursed by God with illnesses, handicaps, and misfortunes. They believe their cup doesn’t carry any blessings.”
“Trevor did what nobody else could have done. He transformed a group of strangers into a community of love by his simple, unself-conscious blessing. He, a meek man, became the living Christ among us. The cup of blessing is the cup the meek have to offer us.”

Conclusion: In spiritual formation, we learn about “the disciplines”

Specific rituals and behavior we practice regularly to promote our transformation
– the virtues are spiritual disciplines
Nouwen, “The are disciplines because we do not practice them spontaneously.”
• meekness does not come to us naturally
– practicing the virtues is all about us becoming different that we were
• the new self is a better person than the old self
◦ the actions of the old self are programmed and automatic
◦ even when we did not want to keep repeating the old patterns,
we stuck to the low path – trapped by our default settings
• but the new self is ready for this virtue list
◦ because Jesus shares with us his resurrection life
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. . . . having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God who raised him from the dead. (Col. 2:6-7, 9-10, 12)
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (Ro. 6:4)

The virtues are not a new set of rules;
they are standard features that come with these new models,
empowered by the Spirit of God

Mar 6 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 6, 2022



Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility . . . Colossians 3:12

Intro: Working our way down this list of virtues we come to humility

When I began thinking about this talk,
– it occurred to me you don’t need this message – look where we are
• this is not the hot spot on Sunday mornings–
◦ the place to be seen – you can’t brag about being here

Yesterday, walking Kona, I spoke with a friend who lives out of the area, and I mentioned that I had to get home to prepare my talk. He said, “I thought you resigned from being a pastor. What’s the name of your church.” So I explained that I am no longer a pastor (at least I do not go by that title) and we do not call ourselves a church. I told him about our small “spiritual community” and this morning he sent me the following text: “This fits you much better than a mega-church.” He knows me well.

• a woman, fairly new to our community, in one of our Zoom meetings,
◦ referred to us as a church, then caught herself
◦ “Oh, that’s not right. I don’t know what to call it; our ‘Cult by the Sea’”
– But, even humble as you are, pride tends to raise its ugly head
• the ego gets wounded – we feel need to defend ourselves
◦ our beliefs, our choices, our political views
• no one is immune
◦ so it’s probably worth our while to discuss humility

If you think about it, humility is vital for “intimacy” (our previous series)

In fact, this is true of all the virtues
– Psalm 133 begins,
Behold how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!

• the first image it uses to describe unity is this:
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes (Ps. 133:1-2)
• oil had many uses in biblical times: cosmetic (skin and hair), healing, and the sacred anointing
◦ but I have something else in mind other than “essential oils”
– we have to put oil into our car engines
• to keep all the moving parts running smoothly
◦ that’s because oil reduces friction
• oil change is necessary, because it collects sludge from the engine that could wear it down
– in every close relationship, humility works like (motor) oil
• it keeps interactions running smoothly, it reduces friction, and it carries away guck
• also, there are different oils for different types of machines
◦ sewing machine requires oil with less viscosity than car engines
◦ and likewise there are degrees of humility given the situation

We can see here how Paul’s metaphor breaks down

His put off and put off – like changing out of our old clothes into new clothes
– we would not say, “Put on humility,” as if we were putting on a T-shirt
• Paul isn’t saying it’s okay to be conceited or arrogant,
◦ as long as you act humble once in awhile
• it is only an act, if I’m doing something humble, while thinking, “I’m better than this”
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself [or herself] more highly than [they] ought to think, but think with sober judgment , each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned (Ro. 12:3)
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (Php. 2:3-4)
– and while we’re here in Philippians, I might as well point out:
• every lesson we can learn re: humility, we learn from Jesus
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Php. 2:5-8)
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly [humble] in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Mt. 11:29)

I’m sure you could help me further develop this next point

What humility is not:
– “toxic shame”: to be ashamed of your “self” as opposed to feeling shame over an action
• I do this when I degrade myself with name-calling, “I’m stupid,” “a loser,” “hopeless”
• being obsessed with guilt, is not humility
humiliation: when you feel you’ve been reduced to nothingness
• treated like a non-person
• in scripture, it is what an enemy will do to a person
◦ or it is a punishment God inflicts on the arrogant
◦ later on, self-humiliation became the excessive ascetic practice of some monks
Paul warns the Colossians away from this:
Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism–i.e., an exaggerated humbleness
These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh (Col. 2:18 and 23)
low self esteem or self-loathing
• if you hate yourself, you can’t think that means you’re humble
• it means you need to see a therapist
worm theology: the belief that in comparison to God’s majesty, we have no more dignity than worms
• we are made in image and likeness of God
◦ that is not small, it is not nothing
◦ more than once, Jesus emphasized your worth to God
We have misunderstood the virtue of humility
– we either under value it or overdo it

There will never be a “humility contest,”
– no award given to the most humble person
• Paul does hint at a competition in his letter to the Romans
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor (Ro. 12:10)
– I know that I tend to take myself too seriously
• I also know I sometimes fail to take others seriously enough
• in the social structure of the kingdom of God,
◦ there is no one below me
. . . the disciples came to Jesus, saying “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 18:1-4)
◦ on another occasion
You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mk 10:42-45)

Now we can begin to think about what humility looks like

Olivier Clement, “Humility should be practical and realistic.”
– humility is made real through voluntary service
For you were called to freedom . . . . Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another (Gal. 5:13)
– humility is what makes it possible for us to apologize
– humility is what makes it possible for us to let go of an insult
Clement, “Humility makes forgiveness possible . . . .”
– humility is what pleases God
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (Jas. 4:6)
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isa. 57:15)
Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me . . .?
But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word (Isa. 66:1-2)
– I didn’t know what to make of Olivier Clement’s statement, “The mixture of sin and humility is worth more than the mixture of virtue and pride.”
• but then he quoted John Chrysostom (a fourth century preacher)
Chrysostom, “. . . remember the Pharisee and the [tax collector] . . . One relied on his own righteousness, on his own fasting and the tithes that he paid. The other needed to say only a few words to be free of all his sins.” (see Luke 18:9-14)
– humility is the necessary prerequisite for becoming a disciple
Arthur Deikman, Humility “is the attitude required for learning.” “Humility is the acceptance of the possibility that someone else can teach you something you do not already know, especially about yourself. Conversely, pride and arrogance close the doors of the mind.”

Conclusion: I don’t have much advice regarding how to become humble

One thing I can suggest is the consistent practice of confession
– pray the tax collector’s prayer, God, be merciful to me, a sinner!
You are not a worm – but neither are you an angel
You’re a human – so is everyone you know
We can confess our limitations and inadequacies – I can say:
“I don’t know about many things. I don’t know how to be humble”
If we do this, then Jesus will gladly teach us
Then we discover that by stepping down, we are carried up

Feb 27 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

February 27, 2022



Put on then, as God’s chosen, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness . . . . Colossians 3:12

Intro: We are working our way through Paul’s virtue list here in Colossians 3

But this morning it is difficult to not be distracted by war in Ukraine
– millions of desperate prayers are reaching out to God to bring an end to it
• we’ve seen heartbreaking images and also steadfast bravery
• last week our theme was compassionate hearts
◦ and by your response to that talk, I know you are in pain for the many victims of this conflict

I am going to say three things about the Russian/Ukraine war and then let it go
1. the war is the doing of world governments, and no one is innocent
• Ukraine has waged war on Luhankst since 2014
◦ Russia has provided military aid to the Luhankst People’s Republic
◦ the U.S. has not acknowledged the legitimacy of the Luhankst independence
• governments act in their own interests, not civilian interests
◦ citizens are often victims of their government’s decisions
◦ and they are men, women, and children like us
2. the key issue is not how this proves we’re living in the end times
• our concern is for human lives right now – that they have shelter, safety, food and water
• we work and pray for peace in this present world
◦ locating where we are on an eschatological timeline is not the priority
3. already we are witnessing generous acts of kindness
• Poland has welcomed 120,000 refugees with open arms
• Tom and Alida Sharp lived and ministered in Ukraine
◦ he received this message from a former student:
Ruslan Ilchenko, “Friends and relatives from Russia call and write, The biggest thing that touches my heart from their words is when they cry and apologize for Putin’s aggression! They say: ‘We supported him regarding the introduction of troops into the LDNR to protect against Ukrainian troops, not to attack other civilian cities, and especially the “Mother City” Kiev. We are ashamed, forgive us if you can. . . .’”

I suspect that this one word, kindness, could change our lives

Compared to other human actions, the energy of kindness is weak
– a glance at the vice list in verses 5 and 8, we see powerful energy of:
• anger, malice, slander, sexual immorality, and greed
• there is an excess of anger in our country
◦ if not always out in the open, it seethes beneath surface
◦ sadly, it has become characteristic of many Christians
(those who scare me the most are the ones who say hateful things with a smile)
– however, if we let kindness work in our souls,
• we will find a strength in doing good we never knew possible
• kindness waters the earth with goodness and hope
◦ it washes and bandages every sort of wound
◦ kindness could heal the world

The poets and prophets of Hebrew Scriptures were captivated by God’s kindness

Oh, how abundant is your [kindness],
which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you . . . (Ps. 31:19)
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good [kind]! (Ps. 34:8)
. . . in your goodness [kindness], O God, you provided for the needy (Ps. 68:10)
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever! (Ps. 107:1)
You are good [kind] and do good; / teach me your statutes
(Ps. 119:68)
Peter O’brien, Kindness “is a quality which God himself demonstrates in concrete actions.”
Thus says the LORD: In this place of which you say, “It is a waste without man or beast,” in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man or inhabitant or beast, there shall be heard again the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD:
‘Give thanks to the LORD of hosts,

for the LORD is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Jer. 33:10-11)
The LORD is good,
a stronghold in the day of trouble;
he knows those who take refute in him (Nahum 1:7)
– the reason one word can mean both kind and good is because goodness is embodied in kindness
• kindness is one way that goodness is materialized,
• one way goodness expresses itself

Kindness is the fruit that grows from a compassionate heart

Jesus qualified forgiveness by saying, forgive from the heart
– that is where kindness originates
• but it does not stay there
◦ it is possible to feel pity for someone and do nothing
• when we read that Jesus was moved with compassion,
◦ the movement itself was kindness
– kindness engages our bodies,
• it requires the use of our hands and feet, our listening and speaking
• and, because kindness is what we do with our bodies,
◦ it works within us even though we are showing kindness to someone else
◦ it works God’s love deeper into our organs, muscle, tissues, and bones
• even children know the inner experience of being kind

The Greek word is given interesting meanings in New Testament

Once, when Paul was at sea and the ship was battered by a storm,
– fearing it would be torn apart,
• the sailors passed ropes under the hull and tightened with winches
◦ Luke says,
. . . they used supports to undergird the ship (Acts 27:17)
◦ here the word for kindness is translated “supports”
• kindness can be a form of support – it holds things together
– then there is Jesus’ famous invitation in Matthew 11
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Mt. 11:28-30)
• in this instance, the word for kindness is translated “easy”
• to show kindness is to assist someone one with their burden
◦ to ease the load they carry
◦ by showing kindness, we make a person’s struggle or suffering easier

I don’t want to sell you on the health benefits of being kind

You can find that information online
– I would recommend Mayo Clinics “Kickstart Kindness” program
• but I will return to a point I made last week
• at least I tried to make this point
◦ the value of using the virtues spiritual exercises or practice,
◦ is that they free our minds of worldly obsessions,
and help us to become more aware of God’s presence
• this is what Paul is getting at with this list and why it follows,
. . . seek the things that are above, where Christ is . . . . Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Col. 3:2)
– when we perform a kind action, we move out of ourselves
• what happens when I move out of myself with awareness?
◦ I awaken to a larger reality
• not just the reality of other people and their suffering
◦ but the dimensions of God’s love, God’s kindness, God’s Spirit
◦ I also discover a “me” that is greater than my old self (v. 9)

Some of us question our usefulness to God
– maybe we don’t feel like we know the Bible well enough
• that we don’t have enough training to be good representatives of Jesus
◦ we have weakness that we imagine will hold us back
• or perhaps we’ve done things we’re now ashamed of,
◦ so we assume God wants to use someone more righteous
– but the thing about kindness is that weakness and failure do not disqualify us
• in fact, it is just the opposite; they make us more credible
◦ a favorite line from Luke refers to a paralytic that Jesus healed
he rose up . . and picked up what he had been lying on and went home (Lk. 5:25)
◦ he carried home the stretcher that had carried him
• what had been our dependencies and addictions
◦ are now sources of wisdom, empathy, and strength
◦ not only can we handle our own stuff, but we can help others with their stuff

Conclusion: Yesterday afternoon, I took Kona for a walk

I kept repeating the word “kindness” in my mind
It occurred to me that I was seeing others in a different way
I had a different sort of feeling about each person I saw
It seemed like I was prepared and primed for an opportunity

I realized that’s the life I want to live–
and I hope it’s the life you want to live
Try it this week,
put the word kindness somewhere that you will see it,
think of kindness, repeating the word in your mind
and see if that doesn’t enlarge your perspective and open your heart