Monday, April 29, 2013

The Invincible Love of God 4/30/2013 (rp)

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 8:38-39

Think about the quality of human love. It can be compassionate, caring, giving, self-sacrificing, emotional and much, much more. But it can also be tragically temporary, conditional and even false. Many of us have endured profound hurts because of the sometimes unreliability of human love. There is a love, however, that is perfect.

Consider the love parents have for their newborn child. The child has done nothing to deserve such love. In fact the child has done nothing at all, yet the entirety of the parent's life becomes oriented to that child. A nursery is built, the home is made safe, resources are expended to provide appropriate clothing and food and needs are met 24 hours a day. As the child advances into the infant and toddler stages, they begin to discover the world for themselves and sometimes begin doing unlovable things, yet the parents continue to love them with their whole hearts.

Beloved this is the way that God loves us. We are His children, made in His own image. He blew His own breath into us that we may have life. Those who accept this love are infused with holiness and righteousness that we do not innately possess in and of ourselves (justification). This gives us an unbreakable bond with our heavenly Father. It is a love from which we can never be separated.

Thank God for his invincible love!



Thursday, April 25, 2013

Be Careful How You Treat God's Leaders 4/25/2013

“Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, shall make Myself known to him in a vision.  I shall speak with him in a dream.  Not so, with My servant Moses.  He is faithful in all My household; with him I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, and he beholds the form of the Lord.  Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant, against Moses?”  Num 12:6-8

This passage may seem familiar to some of you in that I referenced it in yesterday's posting.  I'm keeping it in front of us today because it is central to another point discussed in last Sunday evening's bible study.  The extracted lesson was that we should be careful how we treat God's chosen leaders.

Moses' brother and sister, Aaron and Miriam, were upset that he had married a Cushite (a person of African descent) and began to not only speak against him but advance themselves, saying that the Lord had spoken through them as well.  God heard this and immediately called the three of them together.  During the conversation, God outlined His relationship with Moses and made it crystal clear that Miriam and Aaron had made a grave error.  Their mistake was so significant that Miriam was struck with leprosy on the spot.

It is no secret that I serve God by serving His people in the capacity of minister (which literally means servant).  However, the point here is not as self serving as you might think.  God has given us everything we need to spiritually succeed in life.  Among the gifts he provides are leaders whose roles are to equip, support, serve and care for His people.  There are three important things the bible teaches us about our appointed leaders.  First, Jesus told those who aspired to lead that they, "must be the very last and the servant of all," Mark 9:35.  Second, it is written, "Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly," James 3:1.  Lastly, leadership of God's people is seen throughout the bible as a dangerous and life threatening calling.  They must face not only threats from non-believers, but more often than not, those who are believers but disagree with the message and/or the individual.  How many times were the apostles jailed and beaten?  How many lost their lives through terrible forms of death?  How many prophets were killed by God's own?

Beloved, it is not about elevating the man of God but appreciating the gift of God.  It is not about putting anyone on a pedestal, but respecting the call and the called of God.  It is not about whether or not he is "just a man" or "just like anyone else" but that God has equipped and positioned that particular leader by His will for your benefit.  Despite the fact that King Saul was after David's life, David did not lay a hand on him when he could have because Saul was God's anointed.

In a display of true compassionate servant leadership, it was Moses who appealed to God on Miriam's behalf that she be cured of the leprosy she brought on herself by her mistreatment of him.  Further, it was Moses who sought mercy for the people when God wanted to destroy them all for the heinous sins.  Let us love and respect those who have dedicated their lives to serving God by loving and respecting us.



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ask the Minister 4/24/2013


Forgive this deviation from the norm.  I received a question about a subject in the bible recently (as I do from time to time) and decided to share the exchange in that there may be others who have the same question.

Subject: Numbers 14:10 - 45

Dear Lee,

I have been reading the Bible through again this year and noticed

something I never have before or heard discussed. In this chapter the

spies return from the promised land and the people listen to the

defeatist. God then says he will destroy them all who opposed and

grumbled. Moses then reasons with God citing the political

implications. I do not know what to make of this. What are your

thoughts? It is a very interesting passage. Moses counseling God who

power is unlimited?



It is good to hear from you. It is also amazing timing in that we just discussed this issue in class on this past Sunday evening.

The scripture in Numbers is not the first time Moses appealed to God for mercy on behalf of the people. You may recall the anger that God felt when the people made the molten calf while He was giving the 10 commandments to Moses on the mountain (Exo 32:7-14) and how Moses appealed to Him on their behalf.

Some people will say that God knew what He was going to do the whole time, but presented Moses an opportunity to exemplify both faith and compassion. I disagree with this theory because we are not told that God was testing him and going about it this way could be considered guile, of which God cannot be accused.

There are those that would say that Moses was counseling God and convinced Him to do other than he planned. I don't completely agree with that either. Romans 11:33-36 says, "Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has know the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor. Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them. For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen."

I believe the answer is twofold. First, it is important to know that God had a strong relationship with Moses. He famously said of Moses in Numbers 12:6-8, "Listen to my words: when there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord." Secondly, God has proven himself over and over to be a God who hears and grants requests. This is what the power of prayer is all about. You'll remember how Hezekiah cried out to the Lord who had just delivered the news of his impending death through Isaiah, which resulted in the Lord relenting and giving him another 15 years. Scripture is replete with instances of God being amenable to request, not just from the "mighty men of God" but from folks just like me and you.

It should not be considered that Moses was giving God political advice. The focus should be that he was putting in a request for mercy for the people before Him and using reason of God's own public relations to substantiate it. It should also not be missed that in both cases, the people were in fact punished for their transgression (Exodus 32:31-35, Numbers 14:17-30; 32-35).

I hope this clears things up for you. Thanks for the opportunity to discuss the word. Know also that I'm praying for you.



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Of God or Men? 4/23/2013 (rp)

"For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ." Gal 1:10

How much of our daily lives are driven by what other people think? Does it affect what we wear, where we go, who we associate with or what we say? What affect does it have on our Christian lives (which should be indistinguishable from our "daily lives")?

The apostle Paul is making the case that there are those in the Galatian church who have turned away from the true gospel he shared with them in favor of a corrupted gospel shared with them by others with questionable motives. They were called Judaizers and they taught that it was necessary to commit to Jewish custom and law to become a Christian. These same people are the ones who caused Peter to turn away from eating with Gentiles with whom he was sharing the gospel because he did not want to be known for associating with them. Paul publicly chastised him for this behavior because he was more interested in pleasing certain people than in doing the work of the Lord.

Beloved, the gospel message and the Christian life it espouses is not going to be popular with everyone. There are those who look with derision on people of faith. This can be a challenging thing for those who are not yet strong in their faith. So called friends and associates attempt to lead them back into the darkness from which they were saved. Even those who are strong in the faith can be subject to pleasing man rather than God. We must remain ever vigilant in setting the example of godliness rather than following the example of ungodliness. To do anything less would mean that we would "not be a bond-servant of Christ."



Friday, April 19, 2013

Reassurance 4/19/2013

"These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life." 1 John 5:13

It is very human to doubt things about which we have no specific and tangible evidence.  Those who believe are no exception.  Upon hearing the claims of his fellow apostles about Jesus' post resurrection visit to them, Thomas famously said, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe,” John 20:25.  Thomas had walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus, was present when Lazarus was called to life from the dead and heard Jesus say that he would return from death, yet even he doubted.  Jesus did indeed return and offered Thomas the opportunity to extract whatever proof he needed. 

Beloved, one of the most amazing things about God is His provision of free will to humanity.  This means that we have the ability to choose to believe or choose not to believe.  We can accept God or we can reject Him.  No one has been compelled to believe.  There were some who were born for God's service but departed from Him such as Samson and Saul and others from common walks of life or even enemy status who became integral to the growth and spread of Christianity such as the apostles (including Paul).  The point is that if you, of your own free will, choose to believe in and follow Christ, be 100% committed and assured.  It is only when we fully embrace him that we can truly experience his love and accomplish his work.

Jesus told Thomas, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed,” John 20:29.  Have faith.



Thursday, April 18, 2013

Put God First 4/18/2013

"Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." 1 John 2:15

During a bible class last evening, a dear sister said, "The god that most people love and serve is themselves."  I was struck by the profundity of the statement.  As we pursue the pleasures of life at the expense of nearly all else, particularly our relationship with the Father, we practice the most insidious form of idolatry.  We literally worship ourselves by prioritizing, serving and gratifying ourselves.  How do we accomplish this?  It is done by preferring the things of the world.

Beloved, it is not to say that we should not enjoy the life, beauty, comfort and joys that God has so graciously given.  The earth and all that can be found in it was created for us to inhabit and enjoy.  We err, however, when we place the created above the Creator and when we get attached to the present rather than eternity.  Paul said, "Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man," Acts 17:29.  Though he was specifically speaking about materials created by God being fashioned into gods and worshiped, the thought is easily extended to a prohibition against subjecting oneself to stuff and by extension, self.

What are the pitfalls of loving the world?  "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever," 1 John 2:16-17.  The encouragement today is to pursue that which is above and beyond.  Our Father sits on high and looks low and has promised an eternity with Himself to those who deny themselves and follow Him.



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Battle Bigger Than Boston 4/16/2013

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places."  Eph 6:12

Today is Tuesday, April 16th, just one day after the horrific attacks on innocents during the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts.  By now we have all seen the tragic images and heard the heartbreaking sounds associated with such a devastating event.  We are all wondering how and why such a thing could occur, what is happening to our world and who is responsible for such a thing.  Everyone desires that justice be done.

Beloved, I am in no better position than anyone else to explain why this and tragedies like those at New Town, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma City, New York and so many others continue to occur except that Satan is busy.  We tend to look at the people and their motives, which we should.  We examine the differences in ideologies and beliefs between "us" and "them," which is a valid thing to do.  As children of God, however, we must not miss the fact that there is an adversary greater than any of us as individuals and a battle that has raged for longer than we have existed.  Ezekiel 28 tells the story of the king of Tyre but scholars say that it parallels the story of Satan and how he became the Enemy of God.  The point is that since that time, humanity and even the earth have become the battlefield.  Humanity was famously first used by the Serpent in the Garden of Eden, not as much to hurt mankind but to strike against God.  With spiritual understanding, the battle is apparent to this day and continues to rage.

For this reason we must "Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil."  And we must also "With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints," Eph 6:11; 19.  Let us pray fervently to our God, particularly on behalf of those impacted by these acts, but certainly for us all.  Come soon Lord.



Monday, April 15, 2013

You Can Work Miracles 4/15/2013

"But Peter said, 'I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!'”  Acts 3:6

Peter, having recently preached what is commonly referred to as the "first gospel sermon" was on his way to the temple for afternoon prayers when he and John noticed a beggar.  Lame from birth, the man was there hoping that those headed to worship would display compassion toward him and give him money.  The bible does not tell us how successful the man was, but when Peter and John came along, he got more than he bargained for.

Beloved, as Christians, we have a duty to be the embodiment of Christ on the earth.  He said that we are the light of the world and that we should let that light shine in order that God may be glorified.  Part of letting our light shine is doing for others who perhaps cannot do for themselves.  Need is all around us be it expressed or not.  Let us not be as those who turn a blind eye and just pass by, particularly as we are on our way to worship the Lord who tells us to be compassionate to all.  Let us be as those who stop and engage others, first seeing to their needs as much as we are able and then taking the opportunity to see to spiritual needs they may not know they have.  This is our great calling.

Through the power of Jesus, Peter and John provided miraculous healing to someone in dire need.  Whereas we may focus on the strengthening of his limbs and his new ability to walk, run and leap, simply stopping and caring enough to meet a need can be miraculous in and of itself.  We can all be miracle workers through the love of Christ.



Friday, April 12, 2013

Do You Recognize Me? 4/12/2013

"Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus." Acts 4:13

Through the power of the Lord, Peter and John had just famously healed a man who was lame from birth.  This and their subsequent sermon earned them negative attention from the religious rulers.  As a result, they were jailed overnight and the following day were required by those who had made themselves enemies of Christ to give an account of themselves and the things they had said and done.  Their reply to the question, "By what power or by what name, have you done this" was "Be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who you crucified, who God raised from the dead, even by him does this man stand here before you whole" Acts 4:10.

Beloved, those who serve the Lord know his power.  We know it not only by faith but because we have seen it work in our own lives.  There are many who think that they do not need God or worse that He does not exist.  Whether by ignorance or rebellion, this is a denial of the sovereignty and the power of the Almighty.  We, like Peter and John, must be willing to both do the will of God and be willing to boldly give Him the glory for the results despite the challenges that exist to do so.

As with the apostles, when we act as children of God and disciples of Jesus, those around us will not be able to deny the truth and they we will know that we have been with the Savior.



Thursday, April 11, 2013

When God is All You Have 4/11/2013

"Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction." Exo 16:4

There are times in each of our lives that we feel we have reached the end of our rope.  Our own ideas, knowledge, skills and abilities have taken us as far as we can go.  The people of Israel, having just been liberated from 430 years of slavery and having benefited by the miracle of crossing a parted Red Sea on dry land while their enemies perished, found themselves in such a position.  They were in the wilderness and all the food they brought with them had been consumed.  They had neither the time or the ability to plant crops in an infertile desert that could feed them.  They had most certainly exhausted all that they could do for themselves.

Beloved, what do we do in such situations?  To whom do we turn?  When our health fails and the doctors have no answers, when relationships deteriorate and the counselor throws up his hands, when a loved one passes and the grief is insurmountable and when sin has overcome us and we can no longer see the Light, what do we do?  Reach out to the Master of the universe.  Reach out to the Creator of all things.  Reach out to the One who does all things well.  Go to the Father.

God knew the plight of the Hebrews, not just because He knows all things but because He had been with them the whole time.  There would have been no need to free them from bondage only to allow them to perish in the wilderness.  Hundreds of years earlier, He made known to Abraham that He had a plan for His people.  Though they experienced trials and tribulations along their journey, they were never without the saving grace and provision of the Almighty.  He literally fed them from His own hand when they could do nothing for themselves.  Further, He not only fed the estimated 2 million men, women and children plus livestock day and night, but He did so for 40 years until such time they entered the Promised Land, a place described as being filled with milk and honey, a place that He prepared for them.

As God cared for our progenitors in the faith, He most surely does for us.  Know that even when we are at our lowest, we are never alone and that God has a plan for us.  Sometimes, we have to be in a position where God is all we have in order to fully know, understand and believe that God is all we need.  That same God has a place prepared for you and me.



Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Limited Patience of God 4/10/2013 (rp)

"Now the LORD was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice," 1 Kings 11:9

Most everyone knows that Solomon was the wisest man to ever live. We know that God found favor with him in no small part due to his father David who himself was a man after His own heart. God blessed him with unsurpassed wisdom, fabulous wealth, tremendous fame, amazing power and many of the desires of his heart. We also know that Solomon displayed a complete lack of wisdom by going against the commands of God and becoming involved with 700 wives and 300 concubines, many of whom were from forbidden nations. He was led to the worship of other gods and forsook Yahweh. Despite this, God visited him multiple times to get him back on the right path to no avail. This is the very definition of a tragedy.

Beloved, the question each of us must answer within his or her own heart is how many times must God appeal to us to maintain obedience to Him? Though certainly not on the same scale, God has blessed us with wisdom, wealth, fame and power. He has given generously from his vast storehouse of blessings, yet we at times allow those very blessings to corrupt us, forgetting He who is the source. He appears to us through the movement of his Holy Spirit within us. He appears to us through His word whether preached or read. He appears to us through circumstances, all designed to focus our attention on Him and the even greater blessings He has promised.

It is indeed a tragedy on the scale of the "Rich Young Ruler" who walked away from the riches of heaven in favor of earthly riches, when we take our eyes of of God and become disobedient. Sin is a slippery slope. Once the slide begins, it is difficult to stop. Even now, God is appearing to you and I to stop the slide that may have already begun. Nothing good exists at the bottom of such a hill.



Monday, April 8, 2013

Don't Look Back 4/8/2013

"The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.  The sons of Israel said to them, 'Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.'” Exo 16:2-3

In the movie "Shawshank Redemption" one of the prison inmates whose story the movie told received his freedom.  Tragically, he could not cope with the outside world and all of its many differences from the world he had known for most of his life.  By his own admission, he had become institutionalized, having been told when to wake, sleep, bathe, eat and go to the restroom.  The difference was so stark, he was unable to cope and took his own life.

Similarly, the people of Israel were enslaved for 430 years.  Despite being liberated by God and being the witness and beneficiaries of miracle after miracle (imagine what it must have been like to pass through the massive walls of a parted Red Sea on dry ground while God in a pillar of fire held off the enemy), the people complained about food and longed to die back in slavery where it was plentiful.

Beloved, when God liberates us from slavery to the enemy and his unrighteousness, it is easy to look over our shoulder at some of the things that were left behind.  Though there may have been things that looked, tasted and felt good in our pre-Christian lives, slavery is still slavery, unrighteousness is still unrighteousness and death is still death.  We have been liberated from these things through Christ Jesus our savior.  Let us look ahead to freedom, light, the gifts of the Holy Spirit and an eternity with the One who made us.  And if we happen to get a little hungry, know that God allows this only to demonstrate that we can completely rely on Him.  He has said, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" Matt 6:33. 

It was God who delivered water from a rock when the Hebrews were thirsty.  It was God who caused manna to fall from heaven and quail to land on the ground when they were hungry.  Nevertheless, time after time they grumbled against Him and longed for the darkness from which they had been brought.  Let us never be guilty of such things, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us" Rom 8:18.



Friday, April 5, 2013

Safety and Security 4/5/2013

"Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen."  2 Pet 3:17-18 (NIV)

What comes to mind when we think of security?  It could be anything from a simple feeling of safety and well being to the men and women that protect the President of the United States and other dignitaries.  The reason that such a concept exists is because threats and danger exists.

The apostle, Peter, raises our attention by outlining both threat and assurance.  He states, "Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.  They will say, 'Where is the coming he promised?  Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation,'" 1 Pet 3:3-4.  Here he reveals that people will not only lose faith, but contribute to others doing the same.  As a result of this distraction, people will return to the unrighteousness and its accompanying ways from which we were saved. He provides assurance by reminding us that any delay in the coming of the Lord is a gift from God designed to give us time to receive salvation.  This is accompanied by a warning that not everyone will want to see the coming of the Lord because of the destruction it means for those who have not heeded.  The advice is then to remain faithful, diligent and steadfast in order that we be not lost.

Beloved, we do not have to look far to see the things that Peter predicted some 2000 years ago.  Verification is seen in every headline, on every news and entertainment channel and in the very lives of our friends and neighbors.  The cause of Christ is under literal and constant threat with people co-opting it, attacking it or perverting it to accommodate their own evil lifestyles; however, security is available to the obedient believer.  Christ died for our sins that we might be adopted into the family of God.  Within the family, within the household and economy of God, is safety and that, eternal.  Let us heed Peter's ancient advice and not allow ourselves to "fall from our secure positions."  Jesus said,
Remain faithful until death and you will receive a crown of life" Rev 2:10.  We have been warned.



Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Carpe Diem 4/3/13 (rp)

"This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it." Ps 118:24

Read by itself, one can hardly get the sense of the exuberance that fills Ps 118:24. Even a casual reading of the context reveals that the writer is celebrating the goodness of God. He revels in the loving kindness of the Lord. He gives thanks for the rescue the Lord has performed during times of distress. He trumpets God's protective nature and endorses Him over all others in whom we might otherwise place our trust. He even thanks God for his discipline because he knows (and anticipates) that salvation is found in Him.

Beloved, what is our outlook on the days of our lives? Are we consumed with its problems or are we thankful for its opportunities? Do we lament our lot in life, or do we praise God for that which we have? Do we focus on the earthly or cast our eyes heavenward?

We of all people, the privileged children of the Almighty have every reason to wake up each morning with a shout of triumph, not that we have accomplished anything, but that He has accomplished everything. Each day we are given a new opportunity to praise Him and enjoy his many bountiful blessings. Each day we anticipate the promised inheritance. Each day we are closer to seeing the Savior's face. Yes, this is THE day the Lord has made. Let us always remember to praise Him and to rejoice!



Tuesday, April 2, 2013

He Lives! 4/2/2013

"For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised;  and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins." 1 Cor 15:16-17

During the time that Jesus walked the earth, there was no one who did not believe that he existed.  He could be seen, heard and touched.  In fact, he became quite famous among many and infamous among some.  He was a healing balm to the poor, needy and seeking but a thorn to the self righteous religious leaders of the time.  The issue was not whether he lived, but whether he was who he said he was, the very son of God.  Further, there was a particular group of people that were staunch opponents to the belief that resurrection was possible.  This doctrine was used to chip away at his credibility both before and after his resurrection.

Beloved, there is a defense against this teaching.  It is absolutely foundational to the Christian faith that, as Paul wrote, "that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,  and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep" 1 Cor 15:3b-6.  We can see that there were many witnesses and to this day, much weight is given to eyewitness testimony, particular when many agree.

Nevertheless, the thinking, belief and teaching of a long gone sect has not only survived to this day, but grown.  It seems that people are more cynical than ever about the truth concerning our savior.  Further, even believers have co-opted his teaching to be more in step with ever changing societal norms than the bedrock principles on which they were established.  Now, more than ever, we must know, believe and conduct ourselves in a manner in keeping with he fact not only did he live, die and live again, but that he lives even now.  Our faith is not in vain.  Our sins need not condemn us.  As Jesus was resurrected, so will all be who give him headship over our lives.



Monday, April 1, 2013

Doing Right While Being Done Wrong 4/1/2013

"But Jesus said to him, 'Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?'  When those who were around Him saw what was going to happen, they said, 'Lord, shall we strike with the sword?'  And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear.  But Jesus answered and said, 'Stop! No more of this.' And He touched his ear and healed him." Luke 22:48-51

Almost without fail, our natural reaction to being offended or wronged is to retaliate. It is practically an automatic response.  The fact is that many parents, Christians among them, teach their children from the earliest age to hit back if someone hits them first, rather than "turn the other cheek."  This and other teaching builds into how we handle conflict as adults.

This said, it is not suggested that we should refrain from teaching our children to avoid conflict and/or defend themselves nor that we should not do similarly, however, offered for your consideration is the example of Jesus.  He was under near constant scrutiny, threat, persecution and intent to harm once he began his ministry in earnest.  Nevertheless, he never deviated from his mission to seek and save you and me.  Even as he was betrayed and accosted by soldiers with clubs and swords, he still advocated for peace and would see no one harmed despite what he faced.

Beloved, let us always think twice about how we react.  Let us remember the Christianity that we claim, the God that we serve, the Son who saves us and all of the thinking and behavior that goes with it.  Let us also consider the relative smallness of the things that cause us injury or offense, yet how easily and quickly we respond.  It is easy to talk the Christian talk but quite another thing to walk the Christian walk.  And though we may suffer in the name of the Lord personally, great good can come of it.  Peter wrote, "But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.  Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened" 1 Pet 4:14.  He further states, "So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good" 1 Pet 4:19.  This is what Jesus did.