Let Hope Rise with Pastor Tony

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A Life to Transcend

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“You show love to thousands but bring the punishment for the parents' sins into the laps of their children after them...you reward each person according to their conduct and as their deeds deserve.”

Jeremiah 32:18, 19b

What I found curious about today's verses is that Jeremiah seems to be making two opposing theological assertions in his prayer. On the one hand, he affirms that each person has the freedom to do good or to do evil and that they will receive their rewards accordingly. On the other, he says that children will pay the price for the sins of their parents, seemingly regardless of their own deeds.

My initial reaction to this second assertion is to recoil from it, but isn't there truth in it? I once learned all about family systems theory and how we inherit so much from our mothers and fathers, the good and the bad personality traits as well as the dysfunctions that lead to brokenness and sin. I don't believe God actively punishes us for being born in a certain family, but Jeremiah points to the fact that it is inevitable that our parents' sin can and will affect us too. But the Lord most certainly rewards us when we put love at the center and transcend our family dynamics by doing what is right. By living in this way, each subsequent generation will have the gift of a healthier family system.

Reflect for a minute on what you've picked up from your environment growing up, the things of God that you want to cling on to, and the things not of God that you want to put aside. Now imagine setting up the next generation for success. What does that look like? What has to change in your life? No generation is perfect, but the more we can transcend the baggage and habits and attitudes we bring to life with us, the more God can transform the people to whom we're closest.

Ultimately, we become like those we spend time with. So resolve to spend time with Jesus and share the Lord with your loved ones. Through your example, who knows? They might just become like Jesus as well.  "A life to transcend" is all about making God bigger than our own issues and intentionally allowing the Spirit to transform us from the inside out.

Prayer: “Lord, I believe you are a just and righteous God. Yet we struggle with certain truths and wrestle with our own assumptions to figure out how it all fits together. It is hard work and just when we think we've got it all worked out, we realize we've only just scraped the surface. And yet, from my own experience, I know you to be a righteous and just God, a God who put on flesh, lived a human life, and died in a painful and humiliating way so that I, two thousand years later, can live. This day, I pray that you would overcome me so that I may transcend my own family system. May I, like my blessed Savior, embody the same kind of love that brings abundant and eternal life. Amen!”

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Giving Our Thanks

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“What shall I return to the Lord for all His bounty to me? O Lord, I am your servant...you have loosed my bonds.”

Psalm 116:12, 16

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Let me tell you a quick story. Until God opened my eyes, I didn't realize I was bound by guilt and shame. When I became aware of my need and received the blessing of the Holy Spirit, I knew I wanted to serve God with all that I am and have.

Though it was mostly out of gratitude, there was also an implicit notion that I owed God for what God had done. So I asked myself: how can I repay God? Then, as I grew in my faith, I began to ask: how can I ever repay God for all His bounty to me? After all, the very air I take into my lungs is a gift from the Creator of the heavens and the earth. I can't repay God; that isn't the point of our faith.

I realized I am free to serve God, not because I am obligated to do so, but because to do so is a natural response to the salvation I have already received through Jesus Christ. So with the psalmist I gladly declare, “O Lord, I am your servant.” Because He has loosed my bonds, I have life that is abundant and eternal, a promise that will never fade and will never fail.

That is what I am thankful for today and what I will do my best to be thankful for every single day I wake up on this earth.

How about you? What has the Lord done for you and have you taken some time today to give the Lord thanks?

Prayer: “Father, I am so grateful that you have loosed my bonds and freed me. I am your servant and I choose to follow you because you are the Great Redeemer. I cannot repay you because everything that I am and have comes from your hand. I pray you take such a notion out of my mind so I can be truly free to live for you.  Continue to use me to lift others up in such a way that they are blessed by you, the living God, in Jesus' Name. Amen!”

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