Archives for posts with tag: faith

Sermon Series - ColossiansA few years ago no one had even heard of iCloud. Now the word is in everybody’s mouths, including the ones who have no idea what it means.

My understanding is that the iCloud is where you keep things stored outside of a physical place in one of your many mobile devices. Since it’s always there “on the cloud” the idea is you can access it without any trouble at any time — as long as you have Internet.

And iCloud has already saved me on more than one occasion. Once I managed to lose all my contacts on my phone; when I upgraded my phone recently I found out that all my apps had been transferred to my new phone effortlessly.

But there is a catch. First, as I already indicated, you gotta have Internet. Then, and this is even more important: You gotta sign up for it — it doesn’t happen automatically.

And that’s where Colossians 1:5, 6 come in. Ages before the Internet, God revealed to us that when we cross that BC/AD line, an iCloud account is immediately available to us. You think I’m kidding, right? No, I’m not. Here is what the text says:

… the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you.” 

Did you catch that concept? “Stored up for you in heaven.” That’s God’s iCloud for you, replete with faith, love, and hope, always available as an inexhaustible fountain of divine blessings that only one who had experienced a new birth can get.

Now, why is this so significant? Because for people like myself who grew up with a certain type of evangelicalism where guilt was brandished as a sort of a knight’s shinning armor,  when we think about the idea of God storing things up in heaven, we normally think of God storing our sins. We think of a long book where all of the places, times, and nature of our offenses are registered just so God can slam us with it one day when we get to haven just in case we get any illusions that we may be there based on our own merit…

Now, I hope you don’t hear me saying that we shouldn’t worry about giving an account to God someday about our actions. That’s not what I am saying at all. But it is refreshing for me to know that the things God stores up in His iCloud for us are good, positive things, like love, faith, and hope. That’s the kind of stuff I want to have in reserve in a “savings account” somewhere as I seek to live my life below the AD line. And that is exactly what God provides for me in Jesus Christ.

But even though this iCloud exists, like the one in cyber space, you gotta sign up for it, by crossing that BC/AD line, and you gotta keep connected to the “Internet” (in this case, God Himself) to enjoy its benefits.

This is only the first of several messages I will be preaching through the book of Colossians in the next several weeks. Here is what I have stored up for you:

  • April 12: God’s iCloud: What Happens When BC/AD Meet (1:1-14).
  • April 19: No Match For the “D” in AD (1:15-23).
  • April 26: Mystery of AD Living (1:24-2:5).
  • May 3: BC Tries to Fight Back (2:6-23).
  • May 10: AD Operator’s Manual Part 1 (3:1-9).
  • May 17: AD Operator’s Manual Part 2 (3:10-17).
  • May 24: AD Living in 3D (3:18-4:5).

Thank you for your prayers!

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz,  PA

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Get Real with God Blog

No one disputes the fact that the world is a messed up place. Many of us are also in a world of pain. Some of it self-imposed, some of it, so it appears, random stuff. The question is whether the existence of the mess itself is reason enough to discard the very idea of God.

All of us, from time to time, have joined the skeptics in saying, “If God would only [fill in the blank], then people would have no reason to doubt His existence, power, or benevolence.” The blank is usually related to some display of spectacular power, an example of fairness written across the sky, or a special appearance by God, let’s say on the Oprah Winfrey show…

For example, if all the evil captors of the 200 plus Nigerian girls held in captivity were struck with an unexplainable stomach ailment and died within a short time of each other, allowing the girls to escape, people would believe in God, right? I mean, aren’t the girls Christians to begin with? Or if the Shroud of Turin were authenticated by Richard Dawkins, even Carl Sagan, from wherever he is, might believe, right?

Wishful thinking, this “What if…” exercise turns out to be. In history, just the opposite happened. Yes, believe it or not, according to the Old Testament narrative of the happenings of the people of Israel, at one time in history God made an unequivocal show of fairness – to the point of drawing up a contract with His people, painstakingly detailing what would happen to them if they kept the contract or vice-versa; and what happened at the end? Well, you know the story – the people chose to rebel against God anyway.

God also showed up in a visible way, with the original G.P.S. (God Positioning System) there for all to see – a pillar of cloud by day and a column of fire by night. He also spoke to Moses some 613 laws that the people were to follow and He gave them prophets and something called the Urim and Thummim, which was a nice little gadget only a few of the initiated were allowed to use when they needed a word from the Lord (was this some kind of a supercomputer with direct access to the mind of God?).

Crystal-clear guidance. Wow. But did that result in more faith? Quite the contrary. Writing about this, Philip Yancey says, “… clear guidance sucked away freedom, making every choice a matter of obedience rather than faith. And in forty years of wilderness wanderings, the Israelites flunked the obedience test so badly that God was forced to start over with a new generation.”  (Disappointment with God, p. 46).

This is fascinating, to say the least. It forces me to ask: Are those who cry out for visible, spectacular evidence on the sky merely looking for an excuse? What did God’s direct approach accomplish in the Old Testament? Again, I quote Philip Yancey, from the same book: “… God’s directness seemed to produce the very opposite of the desired effect. The Israelites responded not with worship and love, but with fear and open rebellion. God’s visible presence did nothing to improve lasting faith.” (pp. 47-48).

This all leads me to the message this Sunday, as we start studying the final song Habakkuk composed as he searched for answers as to why God was silent in the midst of so much evil in the world. We will learn that remembering the past only and imagining the future only will not satisfy us. Not that these things are bad. We can learn a lot from our past and we certainly can derive hope from imagining the future through the lens of Scripture. But the ultimate answer to our quest for meaning in the midst of our shared or individual messes can only be found in having faith in God in the present.

Hope you can join us this Sunday. You will also witness an amazing baptism celebration.

See you there!

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

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“Those who have turned the world upside down have come here.” (Acts 17:6). This was the accusation leveled against some early Christians not too many years from the time Jesus ascended into heaven. Paul and Silas were among them, in Thessalonica, roughly 1,000 miles from Jerusalem.

So the question is: How could this small band of Christians make waves so far away in such a short period of time? The answer may surprise you. They had met the risen Lord, were so desperate that their very survival depended on prayer and they were boldly sharing their faith even in the face of threats against their lives. Now that is a lethal combination.

Some will say that the disciples were only being falsely accused of turning the world upside down. In other words, since this is a rioting crowd, they were exaggerating. You ever heard of hyperbole?

Well, let’s consider that for a moment. Maybe this was a catchy phrase these rioters came up with, but they went further. They said, “They are defying Caesar’s decrees, saying there is another king, one called Jesus.” (Acts 17:7). Hmmm. That is really radical, if you want my opinion. It is subverting the order of things. It’s challenging the authorities and threatening the very fabric of a society which existed on the premise that the Emperor was the one existing power. Christians had become dangerous to society. That is as counter-cultural as they come, and the Church must reclaim this place in the world, even if it costs us a lot — or even everything.

Kim Jong Il was not afraid to say it. He considered Christians, “my most volatile enemies.” Christians threaten to change allegiances and dethrone human dynasties wherever they go. All they need to say is “I am the way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by me.”

From that perspective, Christians were being accused of committing a crime. But that wasn’t stopping them from speaking of what they had seen and heard. They were an unstoppable force for this Jewish Messiah who died and rose again. They had seen it with their own eyes and they couldn’t stop talking about it.

But then something happened in the last 2000 plus years. The Church of Jesus Christ became a sleeping giant. We’ve been cornered into silence and became only a semblance of the power that once was.

But not all is lost. We can still become bold, we can still rely on prayer, and we must. In fact, we must or we will become totally irrelevant and not even risk being falsely accused of turning the world upside down. Come to church this Sunday and find out how we recover that dream.

 

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade