The Priority of Relationship

Good morning. It is Monday, October 27, 2014.

Today is Navy Day. One of my best friends from High School was in the Navy for a while. Happy Navy Day to Rick Mitchell.

It was a good weekend. Yesterday was nice and actually quite a bit of fun. We took Tessie to PetSmart for her shots and nail trimming, and she behaved very well, especially in the car. She is a wonderful car dog. After we dropped her off at home, we swung by the house of one of our elders from church, because his wife is a Notary. We had to get a form notarized for something which I don’t have time to go into right now. It’s a good thing, if it turns out the way we think it will. Then, Christi and I went bowling. We haven’t bowled in at least a year. The alley had leagues starting at 5:30, so we were only able to bowl one game, but that was probably for the best. I scored 150, while Christi scored 127. Not bad after laying off for so long. I would really like to get back into it.

It seems that a group of people from ETSU (my college alma mater) are trying to get a band together for a concert, comprised of people who were around in the late seventies/early eighties. I started working on getting my chops back, yesterday afternoon. If the concert is scheduled far enough out, I might have a chance. If not, I will just be there for support. 🙂

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!
Psalm 31:24
Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
Psalm 80:3
You will increase my greatness and comfort me again.
Psalm 71:21
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

John 14:18-26

Today’s Gospel Reading

Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”
Matthew 12:22-32

This has always been a difficult passage. This idea of “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” has puzzled people for decades. There has been much anxiety, over the years, about this “unforgivable sin.” What I believe, basically, is this (I think it is spelled out pretty well in this passage): blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, at least in this context, is relegating the work of God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit to Satan. This is exactly what the Pharisees have done here, accusing Jesus of casting out demons by the power of “Beelzebul.” The Reformation Study Bible notes say this: “The notion of the ‘unforgivable sin’ has caused needless anxiety. Anyone who has been convicted of sin by the Spirit and now believes the truth cannot possibly have committed it.”

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “The Most Urgent Ministry.”

Brennan asks if the church could possibly have a more urgent ministry than the consideration of Jesus’s question to Peter, “Do you love me?” “Is there any creedal, codal, or cultic priority that supersedes the personal relationship between the believer and Jesus Christ?” Is there any hope for revival or even proper administration of a “social gospel” if Jesus Christ is not Lord of my life?

I think I agree with Brennan on this. While I have, for many years, believed that the “ultimate priority” of the church is worship, nevertheless, if we do not have our relationship with Christ sussed out, we are not properly worshiping, are we? This has to be the most important and urgent ministry of our churches. We must learn to, and then, subsequently, teach others to, follow Christ. Our church’s mission statement is, “We want to see new life in Christ for all people.” We want to accomplish this by loving God, following Christ, and sharing the Kingdom.

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

John 21:17

Father, I pray for the churches, especially in our country, that they might get the priorities right. It seems that each one has a different priority. But we should be most concerned with making disciples, centering on that relationship of the person with Jesus Christ. I do believe that worshiping you is our first priority, but, as John Piper has said, “Evangelism exists because worship does not.” As we move forward, I pray that we would be better at making disciples. First, we need to learn how to be disciples. There has been a lack of emphasis on that, over the years, and I pray that it can be rekindled. I thank you that our pastor is keen on this. I do believe that his first priority is making disciples. The relationship of the individual with Jesus is high on his list. Help us to follow his leading as we love you, follow Jesus, and share the Kingdom.

I pray for this day, that we would have smooth and safe travel to work and home. I pray for our work day, that it will go smoothly. Help us to carry your Kingdom with us wherever we go, and not to try to compartmentalize our lives. I pray for Stephanie today, that she would feel better . . . she was not feeling very well last night. May your overwhelming love and mercy hold her up today.

Your grace is sufficient for all things.

May we get our priorities right and focus on relationship. Specifically, relationship with Jesus Christ.

Grace and peace, friends.

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