Gracie Ekblad: The Reckless Love of Jesus

Mark 5:1-20 (ESV)

Jesus Heals a Man with a Demon

1 They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. 2 And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. 3 He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 4 for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. 6 And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. 7 And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8 For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.

14 The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 16 And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17 And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.

Keep Your Love from Growing Cold

Tierra Nueva co-founder and general director Bob Ekblad recently submitted a piece on lawlessness in the face of immigration and the Gospel. 

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Jesus’ words to his disciples regarding signs of his second coming and the end of the age are highly relevant today. Jesus tells his followers to expect wars, famines, earthquakes, persecution, killing, betrayal, hatred, false prophets, and lawlessness.

“Lawlessness” (anomia), translated “wickedness” or “iniquity,” refers specifically to disregarding God’s word and ways—which Jesus says will increase over time.

“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Mat 24:12-14).

I’ve been noticing signs of people’s love growing cold, visible quite recently in a hardening of attitudes towards immigrants and refugees in Europe—and notably in the Trump Administration’s immigration policies. Arresting and sending back immigrants fleeing violence and poverty in Central America and Mexico, and separating children from parents are disturbing signs of hardness of heart.

Continue reading here. 

Another look at "Submission as Resistance: Romans 13 in the light of Psalm 2"

This article was written by Bob Ekblad in August 2017 on his website.

The prophetic witness of Christians before the State has too often been muted by a surface reading of the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 13:1-7, with its infamous “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God” (Rom. 13:1).

Added to this are Peter’s words: ”Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right” (1 Pet. 2:13-14).

It is critical that we read these verses about submission in their larger contexts and in the light of Jesus’ and the Apostles’ missionary activity and teaching. When you also deliberately engage with other Scriptures about governing authorities, like Psalm 2 and Revelation 13, a uniquely revolutionary form of resistance emerges that can inform our action in these challenging times.

What is often missed is that Paul and Peter called followers of Jesus to submit to the pagan and brutal Roman Empire. That submission included respecting the rule of law as long as it didn’t counter the higher allegiance to Christ, honoring those in authority, and humbly accepting the consequences if disobedience was required. Jesus, Peter and Paul were all arrested, beaten, and imprisoned for their missional activities, and Paul wrote at least four of his Epistles from prison.

Yet Paul still viewed all categories of rulers and authorities governing the world as part of the originally good creation, made by Christ:

“For by him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through him and for him” (Col. 1:16).

These non-human entities were viewed as subsequently fallen and rebellious, as the beast which Revelation 13 graphically portrays– but still in operational until the end.

So Paul and Peter are calling for Christians to be in a kind of subjection to whatever government or political party is in power in these times towards the end of history—whether that be a democracy, a caliphate, a fascist dictatorship, a monarchy or maybe even a mafia or gang network that rules a failed state.

Paul and Peter were recommending a course of action so that fragile new faith communities could survive and advance in hostile terrain, while simultaneously bearing witness to Jesus. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people” (Rom. 12:18). Their counsel is in part like advice given to prisoners serving a prison sentence, or to people on probation or engaged in drug court who must obey the rules to avoid further trouble.

Their call must not be read as a religious leaders’ endorsement, a statement suggesting State actions reflect God’s will or as suggesting a cozy alliance between religious and secular leaders.

Jesus, Paul, and Peter called for allegiance to God as highest power: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Lk 10:27).

Nor do these texts mean that Christians must obey laws that go against conscience, be silent about injustice or hold back from their highest callings as Jesus’ disciples.

Jesus resisted authorities when he healed on the Sabbath, cleansed the Temple, and strongly critiqued religious leaders. Peter and Paul went right on preaching when told not to, and willingly suffered the consequences. The first Christians refused military service and worship of Caesar as Lord and suffered torture, imprisonment, and execution.

Paul appears to have often considered governing authorities his enemies, writing strong words regarding enemy love right before Romans 13: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” and end with “do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom. 12:14, 21).

Jesus’ revolutionary submission

Jesus models a quiet authority and confidence before the Roman governor of Judea Pontius Pilate, after he informed him he had authority to release him or crucify him with: “You would have no authority over me, unless it had been given you from above” (Jn. 19:11)—ultimately from himself!

The Apostles saw Jesus’ subjecting himself in self-giving love on the cross as the deathblow to the ruler of this world– the beginning of the end of the reign of the rulers and authorities, which will be judged and finally destroyed (1 Cor. 15:24-27).

Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 must be read in the light of Psalm 2, which begins by asking a question that Christians in America and in many other nations should be asking:  “Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples imaging a vain thing?”

“Why do we as Christians get so caught up in endorsing political candidates and parties, mirroring the hate-filled political divisions around us?”

My sense it that many Christians are not adequately informed about the final destiny of the powers and our own unique prophetic vocation.

The Psalmist reminds us of the macro divine perspective: “The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed” (Ps 2:2).

Jesus experienced hostility from rulers and authorities, and prophesied his followers would experience the same (Mk. 13:9; Lk. 12:11)– which they did (Acts 4:5). Martyrdom was normative then and is on the rise now.

Christians are called to be subject to governing authorities not because they are good or represent God’s agenda. Our citizenship is in heaven. Peter urged believers to see themselves as “aliens and foreigners” right before his words about being subject to authorities, who he sought to evangelize:

“Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Pet. 2:11-12).

Christian submission to rulers and authorities must be done from a perspective of open-eyed realism about both the rebellious, hostile orientation of the powers against the reign of God and Jesus’ greater sovereignty and victory.

“He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then he will speak to them in his anger and terrify them in his fury, saying, “But as for me, I have installed my King upon Zion, my holy mountain” (Ps. 2:4-6).

Jesus is that King, the Son of the Father, come to open the way for us to receive our authority and receive our inheritance as daughters and sons.

“I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to me, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you. ‘Ask of me, and I will surely give the nations as your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as your possession” (Ps. 2:4-8).

Jesus was installed “King of the Jews” there on the cross. Jesus’ submission to rulers and authorities to the point of death on the cross was God’s secret weapon against Satan and the rebellious powers. God “disarmed the rulers and authorities, he made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through him [Jesus]” (Col 2:15).

The Psalmist’s prophetic warning is still in force, putting all Christian submission and resistance into the larger context of Christ’s victory and destruction of the non-human powers.

‘You shall break them with a rod of iron, you shall shatter them like earthenware.’” Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the Lord with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that he not become angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

Psalm 2 brings hope to Christians subjecting themselves to unjust rulers as we know Jesus’ submission wins as all authorities will themselves finally submit to Jesus Christ as King. May we learn from the suffering Christ to step into longsuffering prophetic witness now.

Bob Ekblad: Hearts Growing Warmer in the Face of Injustice

Matthew 24:12-14 (ESV)

12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

 

An excerpt from Tierra Nueva's statement regarding the families being separated at the US border: 

The Trump Administration’s recent enforcement and defense of separating children from their parents at the border is only biblical in keeping with the likes of Pharaoh and Herod – both rulers known for their cruelty and oppression in order to keep their seats of power.

The Kingdom of Jesus has no borders or boundaries. It covers the whole earth as the waters cover the seas. If we are to call Jesus, Lord, and mean it, we must be Kingdom of God people first.

Read the full statement here. 

A statement from Tierra Nueva regarding separating families at the US border

 

It is unsettling how often it is necessary to add our voice to the prophetic voices of the Church in response to decisions and practices of the present administration…

While President Trump has today signed an executive order promising to “keep families together,” and this is good, the order does not address families already separated by the policy. In fact, the administration has no plan at present on how to reunite 2,300 children who have already been separated from their parents.

We recognize that issues with immigration and deportation are not unique to this administration. Over 3 million people were deported under the Obama administration. Our system needs a complete overhaul. What is being done, however, is taking the worst of past administrations, holding it up as unchangeable law, and then enforcing it with unbending cruelty and using it as a bargaining chip for legislation.

The Trump Administration’s recent enforcement and defense of separating children from their parents at the border is only biblical in keeping with the likes of Pharaoh and Herod – both rulers known for their cruelty and oppression in order to keep their seats of power.

The Kingdom of Jesus has no borders or boundaries. It covers the whole earth as the waters cover the seas. If we are to call Jesus, Lord, and mean it, we must be Kingdom of God people first. This is where we pledge our allegiance. To pledge it anywhere else is idolatry. We are followers of Jesus before we are members of any party, or follow any party line or organization, and the call to follow Jesus will, at some point, put us at odds with all parties and organizations, sometimes including the Church.

The call to followers of Jesus is to welcome the stranger (and their children). Jesus saves some of his harshest words for those who bring such trauma upon children. “Woe to the one who causes one of these little ones to stumble. It would be better if a millstone was hung around their necks and be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Mike Neelley
Executive Director, Tierra Nueva
June 20, 2018

Gracie Ekblad: The Prodigal Son

Luke 15:11-32 (ESV)

The Parable of the Prodigal Son

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants,[c] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

Mike Neelley: Hearing God's Voice

John 10:1-5 (ESV)

I Am the Good Shepherd

1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”

 

Alan Muia: Spirit of Adoption

Romans 8:12-18 (ESV)

Heirs with Christ

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Future Glory

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Mike Neelley: Works of the Holy Spirit

Acts 2:1-13 (ESV)

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

2 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

Baptism of the Holy Spirit -Gracie Ekblad

Acts 1:1-8 (ESV)

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

The Ascension

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But 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.”

Without Love -Salvio Hernandez

1 Corinthians 13:1-9 (ESV)

The Way of Love

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Our Origin, Our Slavery, Our Identity -Bob Ekblad

Jeremiah 1:4-9 (ESV)

The Call of Jeremiah

4 Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” 7 But the Lord said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
8 Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.”

9 Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me,

“Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.

Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV)

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

Galatians 4:1-7 (ESV)

Sons and Heirs

1 I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Romans 8:12-17a (ESV)

Heirs with Christ

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ...

 

 

 

Lay Down Your Life for One Another -Alan Muia

1 John 3:16-24 (ESV)

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

Growing in Prayer -Mike Neelley

Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV)

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 100 (ESV)

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

A Psalm for giving thanks.

100 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
2     Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!

3 Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5 For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.

Our Opinions Don't Save Us -Pastor Salvio Hernandez

John 9 (ESV)

Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind

9 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”

18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

Temples of the Holy Spirit -Mike Neelley

John 1:14 (ESV)

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 (ESV)

25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Colossians 1:27 (ESV)

27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Jesus is the Center and We Must Abide in Him -Mike Neelley

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John 15:1-11 (ESV)

I Am the True Vine

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Colossians 1:15-20 (ESV)

The Preeminence of Christ

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Jesus Saves Us, Never Condemns Us -Bob Ekblad

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We continue in the season of Lent in our listening to the Holy Spirit. 

2 Chronicles 36:14-23 (ESV)

14 All the officers of the priests and the people likewise were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations. And they polluted the house of the Lord that he had made holy in Jerusalem.

15 The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy.

Jerusalem Captured and Burned

17 Therefore he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or aged. He gave them all into his hand. 18 And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his princes, all these he brought to Babylon. 19 And they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem and burned all its palaces with fire and destroyed all its precious vessels. 20 He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, 21 to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.

The Proclamation of Cyrus

22 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: 23 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him. Let him go up.’”

John 3:14-21 (ESV)

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

For God So Loved the World

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”