Archive for January, 2013
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)
Love God. Love your neighbor. There are no greater commandments.
He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)
You know you did it. God knows too. It is no use trying to hid your sin. Better to confess your sin so that you can recieve mercy. And part of that confession is to renounce them. In other words, stop it.
“But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’” (Luke 15:2
That’s right, Jesus was just too welcoming. That’s what his enemies said. That’s what they still say. The invitation to be in a relationship with Jesus is extended to everyone. Especially us sinners.
And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord. (Ezekiel 38:23)
God is still revealing himself in this world. And one of the ways he does this is through his people. What will this world learn about God from watching you and me today? Let’s send the right message.
It may have started because we were Three Stooges fans, and we watched an episode that featured strings, doorknobs, and pulling teeth. My son was in the process of losing his baby teeth when he and one of his friends decided to try this approach. At first it did not work because they were standing on the wrong side of the door. But when they got in the right position… out it came.
Now I am watching the same process with my grandkids. I see some teeth so loose they eventually fall out when eating. Sometimes they work and work at the tooth until they can pull it themselves. Some are very dramatic with lots of yelling and excitement. Others just show up with a tooth in their hand. For a short time, those gaps in their teeth look a little strange. Then the big teeth show up and they are so proud of their new teeth.
So what does that have to do with new life? New teeth cannot come in until the old teeth are gone. It works the same way for those who decide to follow Jesus. He promises new life. He gives purpose to lives with no meaning. He frees us from our addictions. He restores relationships. He brings those who have been separated from God into relationship with their Creator.
But new life does not happen unless the old life is removed. That is why becoming a Christian is called a new birth. It is also referred to as “dying” with Christ so you can be raised to a new life. Jesus said it this way: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
New life starts when the old life is removed. Just like pulling the baby teeth so the permanent teeth can come in.
“Solomon son of David established himself firmly over his kingdom, for the LORD his God was with him and made him exceedingly great.” (2 Chronicles 1:1)
Why was Solomon such a successful king? Because of his family heritage? His training? His natural abilities? Those things played a part, but what truly made him great was God’s presence in his life. When he turned away from God, he ceased to be great.
We all envision a peaceful death at a ripe old age. It does not always happen the way we envision. Better to live every day as if today is the day you will die. Make today count.
“If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, they are guilty.” (Leviticus 4:13)
There’s a saying, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” The same goes for sin. We need to be diligently learning what God wants of us and what pleases him. At the same time, we can rest assured that the blood of Jesus will cleanse us from all sin, if we are in a relationship with him.
Today’s call is still to hate the evil in this world. So speak against injustice and evil. And love good. Support good works and good people. Say something positive for God and his people. Do something today that shows how you feel.
“I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” (Ezra 8:22)
It’s easy to talk a good game about believing in God and his protection. It takes tremendous faith and tremendous courage to follow Ezra’s example and say, “I will trust in the Lord and the Lord alone.”