God’s People Complaining

The Lord is so gracious in His Word, that He devotes needed passages to remind His people that we are called to praise His Holy Name. Too often, caught in the net of our earthly desires, we grumble and complain over, really, little things. While I’m not proud of my whining, the Bible is clear that God loves me and is in charge of the situation.

Exodus 17:3-4 (NLT) “But tormented by thirst, they continued to argue with Moses. “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Are you trying to kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?” Then Moses cried out to the LORD, “What should I do with these people? They are ready to stone me!”” 

Philippians 2:14 (NIV) “Do everything without grumbling or arguing.”

THE BIBLE TELLS US in the story of Exodus — where the Jewish people were led out of slavery by God’s mighty hand — that within two months they were grumbling. First, they complained they had no food (Exodus 16),  then they complained they had no water (Exodus 17).

thumb_IMG_0798_1024It’s easy for us as readers in the 21st Century to wonder how they could possibly doubt that God would rescue them from their every adversity and provide for their every need.

THAT’S NOT THE WHOLE STORY. Today, we can read the story and place ourselves in the position of the Israelites. God has blessed many of us in marvelous ways, but we often grumble.

I personally enjoy good health, a retirement with sufficient material resources, a new home with a paid-off mortgage, and a lovely woman to be my wife and join me in our walk with Christ and our retirement years. Yet, I still complain.

THE LORD HAS BLESSED ME RICHLY. He has promised to watch over me and lead me. He calls on me to trust him. When life presents its challenges, and I start to grumble, I need to stop and reflect for this is a moment when the Almighty is calling me to grow in my faith and in my character, both to enhance my earthly witness and to be prepared for an eternity in Glory.

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PRAYER: Our Heavenly Father, we are ashamed when we let our petty tribulations interfere with our faith walk, when we look in the rear view mirror and see a past more glorious than it was and through the windshield  and see a future dimly lit. Help us remember that this is the moment when we need to ask for God’s help, believing He will deliver us. Forgive us our complaining and our shortsightedness. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen

 

 

‘Who Do YOU Think YOU Are?’

Many of us want to obey God and do acts of service, but we’re stopped in our tracks because Satan, the great Tempter, challenges us where we’re weak. He says: Just who do you think You are? He knows our insecurities. When the Lord calls us to step out in faith, the Tempter tells us we’re not good enough. Fortunately, that’s not the story’s end. With the Holy Spirit’s counsel, we can accomplish anything (Phil. 4:13).

Matthew 4:3 (NIV): The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Matthew 4:6 (NIV) “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down.”

What an amazing encounter in the desert!

Can you imagine what Jesus must have felt at that time? He was about to start his public ministry, and there was no more symbolic place to start than to be baptized in  the Jesus Baptized by JohnRiver Jordan by John, known as The Baptist. John, you will recall, was actually Jesus’ cousin, and he was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy that Elijah would return to herald the Messiah.

When Jesus approached the river, John, filled with the Holy Spirit, recognized him as the Messiah, even though the two had never met. John called out that this was the Messiah, the One who came to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

When John baptized Jesus, an act that John performed only because Jesus commanded him to, Jesus emerged from the water, dripping wet and was greeted by the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove and the Father’s voice sounding from the heavens, that “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

In the mosaic of one’s life, being recognized as the beloved Son of God must surely rate at the top, well above making the Dean’s List, publishing a popular novel, being voted “Mom of the Year,” or batting .360 for 10 consecutive years. The top items in our personal review pale in comparison with what Jesus just experienced.

He must have felt on top of the world — exhilarated, pumped, energetic, raring to go!

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IF LIFE COULD BE PIECED TOGETHER with moments like that.

In Paradise, life will, but this isn’t Paradise, and Jesus — like us in this world — would not stay in that moment.

Scripture tells us that as soon as the Christ emerged from the river, He was led by that same temptation-of-jesusHoly Spirit into the dessert to be tempted by Satan. What a graduation present! That’s far worse than being given a toy and finding out the batteries are not included. This would not be an easy temptation, either.

No, Jesus, by himself, with nowhere to lay his head, fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. At the end, He was fatigued, famished, and parched, and the Tempter struck.

“You think YOU are the Son of God!” the Tempter shrieked. “YOU! What makes YOU think you’re so special. Wherever did You get that notion.”

When the Tempter let his taunt sink in, he followed it up with a test.

“You’re hungry with a Big H,” he said. “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

There it was. If you really are who you think you are, you can do something about it. You can turn the stones into bread and gorge yourself. But — maybe you can’t do that. Maybe you really aren’t the Son of God. Then what?

Jesus did not fall for the trap. He told the devil that God’s Word was more important to him than food.

Round One: Jesus.

The devil wasn’t done. He had scored a knockout punch in the Garden of Eden when he incited Eve and then Adam to taste of the forbidden fruit. This was an important test served on a platter, and Satan wasn’t about to give up.

He took Jesus in the spirit to the top of the city and challenged him: “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.” He even quoted some Scripture to add salt to the wound.

Again, Jesus did not fall for the trap. He told the devil that man should worship only God, and that’s exactly what Jesus would do, regardless of being hungry or thirsty or grimy or tired. He would not betray His faith.

Round Two: Jesus.

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THERE WOULD BE A THIRD ROUND, and Jesus would win that one, too. At that point, Scripture tells us the devil fled. We can only imagine Satan was angrier than ever at the Father who had thrown him out of heaven long before.

All of that is fine, but we need to ask this: What does all of that mean for us? 

Really, Jesus was, in fact, God, so He was bound to win against Satan, wasn’t He? That doesn’t mean we can win.

Oh, but it does.

You, see, Satan will use the Cross With Backlightsame question against us.

“John, you feel led to start a citywide program to teach underprivileged children to improve their reading skills. Who do you think YOU are?”

“Mary, you think God is calling you to organize a neighborhood watch group to ensure the post-school safety of grade school children until their parents come home. Who do you think YOU are?”

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FRANKLY, I HEAR THAT SAME VOICE.

Who do you think you are that you should write a blog?

Who do you think you are that you should lead a church prayer group?

Who do you think you are that you should witness boldly for your faith?

I don’t think I’m anyone that should do any of those things. Satan knows those taunts are effective against me.

If I just leave it there, I’ll stop. I won’t do anything.

But that’s not the end of the story. Because the Lord sent His Holy Spirit to be our counselor and advisor, I don’t have to stand alone. With the help of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, that’s how I can lead a life of witness.

It isn’t by my power or by my strength or by my goodness.

With the help of Jesus Christ who gives me that strength (Phil. 4:13), I can do anything.

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BY THE WAY, SATAN. Yes, you in the ugly red suit. You with the horns. I’m talking to you.

Just who do you think YOU are!

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PRAYER: Our Lord, just as Satan tried to derail Your perfect plan to reconcile the world through the sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus, so he tries to derail each of us from obeying Your will for our lives. We pray that Your counselor, the Holy Spirit, will protect us from assault and keep us on the path that You’ve laid out for us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen

GOD’S KEY QUESTION

God asks us to answer this key question: Who do you say Jesus is? Is He the Messiah or an imposter? Apostle Peter believed in Jesus; Apostle Judas betrayed him. One question; two different answers. We also must decide.

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:15-16 (NIV)

And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. Luke 22:4 (NIV)

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THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION men and women, created in the image of God, are called to answer is the simple one Jesus asked his disciples: “Who do you say I am?”

The Bible records two answers Who-Do-You-Say-That-I-Am (Luke 9-20)from two disciples, Peter and Judas. Peter answered right away, declaring that Jesus, looking every bit a man just like them, dressed in robe and dirty sandals, a man who tired after a long day’s work with no place to lay His head at night, was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.

Judas responded later. He sold access to the rabbi for 30 pieces of silver. To Judas, Jesus was an imposter. He promised to be a king, but He showed no interest in leading a rebellion against Rome to free Israel from under its heel.

Two different answers from two men called by Jesus to follow him daily for three years, to pray with him, and to hear him teach the crowds, call out the religious leaders’ hypocrisy, lay a healing touch on a person sick or lame or blind, and even raise a dead man back to life.

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ONE QUESTION, TWO ANSWERS. Really, those are the only answers we can give, and we are called to choose between them.

Because of our fallen natures (we are born in sin through Adam’s disobedience), our default answer is to reject Jesus. For most folks, busy with their lives and striving to get ahead, it’s an easy call. Jesus is not relevant to them. He might have been a good man or a wise teacher, but, let’s get real, He lived a long time ago in a community primitive by today’s standards, and his words and deeds have little relevance to us.

Except.

If that is so, if his life 2,000 years ago in the Near East is irrelevant to our lives, then why are we still talking about him? What is it about Jesus that compels us to address that question of who He is throughout our lives, down through the generations, around the globe, wherever his message has gone?

Sure, He said He was God, but any crackpot can claim a false identity. Yes, He backed up his claim with miracles witnessed by thousands, Most Important Questionand yes, it is said He spoke with authority on the Scriptures, an uneducated man besting the most learned scholars of the day, often leaving them speechless with his responses to their vexing questions.

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BUT SOMETHING WAS DIFFERENT about him, even before his resurrection from the dead. 

He knew the people He talked with. He read their minds; He understood their hearts. He loved them. He reached out with promises of hope and love and mercy and kindness and forgiveness … and life. Life. Abundant Life. Joy in this world and eternity with God.

No one who encountered Jesus could be indifferent. No in-between with him. Either you were with Peter and worshipped him … or you were with Judas and wanted him out of your life.

Who Jesus is is the most important question you — and I — are called to make. Each one of us comes to a decision alone. How we answer that question will determine how we live our lives … and how we spend eternity.

So, who do YOU say Jesus is?

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PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, we know that coming to grips with that one question, ‘Who do I think Jesus is?’ is the most important question we will ever answer. We pray that we will come to see him as our Lord and Savior and give thanks that He sends the counselor to live in our hearts and guide our steps. Help us to live our lives in obedience to him for his glory. Amen

God Will Not Share His Glory

The glory in service goes to God. Too often, in our eagerness to serve the Lord, we become more concerned with our role in the Kingdom and less with the Kingdom, itself. When asking what God wants us to do, we need to focus more on the “God” part of the question and less on the “me” part.

 
Isaiah 42:8 (GW) I am the Lord; that is my name. I will not give my glory to anyone else or the praise I deserve to idols.
2 Thessalonians 2:14 (NIV) He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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AS BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIANS, we naturally are eager to serve the Lord. We take spiritual gifts assessment tests, we sign up for volunteer activities, and we even take our turn at heading up a committee or program. We can become so involved in our church service that, if we’re not careful, each “I do” will add a notch on our Service Belt and a swag to our step.

In today’s Bible text, the Lord is making a point very clear to us: The glory  goes to Him, not to us; but if we obey Him, we can share in His glory.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the “me” part of “What Does God Want Me to Do” and less on the “God” part of that same question.

Even as we mature in our years on  earth and in our walk with Christ, we are still liable to wonder about what “great” role

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Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. — Colossians 3:23 (NASB)

 

God wants us to accomplish. Surely, we reason, He has made us for something “great” and it’s just a matter of time before He’ll reveal it to us and to an appreciative world.

Not likely.

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THERE ARE MANY MORE anonymous saints in God’s heaven than there are Pauls or Johns or Peters or Davids or Moses. As well, not many women in the Kingdom will be another Mary or Elizabeth or Miriam or Ruth.

On a personal level, my wife and I have felt that God is calling us to witness for Him, but we don’t know what His plan is.

So, we keep our eyes open.

We know it’s something big. Something remarkable. We just know that.

Look out, world! We’re coming!

Today, in response to prayer, my wife suggested something revolutionary: What if the Lord just wants us to follow Him daily.

Then, IF there is to be some “grandiose event” that He has planned for us, it will happen in God’s time, not ours.

“I’ve stopped trying to figure out what it is He wants us to do and if there’s  some important job Hands Lifted to the CrossHe has for us,” she told me. “Instead, I’ve decided to concentrate on just doing what I can each day to follow Him, to see Him,  feel Him, and know Him.”

I put down my cereal spoon and searched her face.

Where was she going?

“That’s not always easy to do but just trying to do that is a plan in itself,” she said. “The rest will unfold in His time.”

She wasn’t finished.

“Maybe that’s His plan, for us just to follow Him each day.”

She got me thinking.

“Maybe that’s His plan, for us just to follow Him each day.”

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WE BEGAN TO REALIZE that we can’t sit on the sidelines waiting for our big moment to arrive. Our big moment is right now, today! This is it. No matter what we’re doing or where we are, we’re called to live out the Gospel for His glory.

“If our daily activities lead us to something big — something we haven’t done before — then that’s wonderful,” she added, “but if it doesn’t, then we’re still doing God’s work daily, and, after all, that’s what He wants from us.”

Looking back, it’s easy to see where we went off course. In our zeal to serve the Master, we allowed ourselves to overlook the real work He has called us to do, which is the ordinary mundane sameness of our daily lives lived out for His glory.

The idea that the Lord has something more in mind for us than the small matters that have been our service for Him in years past did not come from Him. It came from somewhere else.

You see, the devil will use our Welcome With Crosseagerness to serve God as a way to deceive us.

He’ll tell us we’re meant for so much more than just offering a friendly smile, an encouraging pat on the back, a casserole for a sick neighbor, a ride to the doctor’s, or playing catch with a child.

No, the devil says, don’t get caught up in that minutia. If you do, you won’t be available when the “big stuff” comes your way. You’ll be too busy with the everyday stuff.

Surely, the everyday stuff wasn’t God’s plan, was it?

We’re going to stay with prayer. What does God want me to do? Our prayer — my prayer — needs to focus more on the “God” part of that question and less on the “me” part.

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PRAYER: Our heavenly Father, we give You all of the glory and praise and honor. To You, Lord, belongs our devotion. We are so grateful for Your love. We pray forgiveness for those times when we get in the way of Your whispers to us, when we’re so busy speaking, that we don’t listen. Help us to see that Your plan for us is to obey You, and leave the glory to You. Amen

God Is True to His Promises

God is truth. His word is truth. That is not an easy concept for us to accept, because in our human world, truth is flexible. God remains a constant. He is love; He is mercy; He is just. Because He is just, He is dependable. We can trust him.

Verses From the Bible to Guide Us Through the Week

MONDAY Numbers 23:19 (GW) “God is not like people. He tells no lies. He is not like humans. He doesn’t change his mind. When he says something, he does it. When he makes a promise, he keeps it.”

MEDITATION: Most of us have been burned. We believed in someone, or at least believed in something they told us, only to learn that he/she could not be trusted. Painfully, many of us are aware that we have been the ones who let someone else down. When pressed, we could share a shameful moment when we misled someone or caused harm to them in some way, even if we weren’t aware of it at the time.

How comIMG_0090forting to read that God is not like that! The Lord of all creation is good to His  word. When He tells us something, He is truthful. When He says He loves us, He really does. When He tells us He will forgive our sins when we admit them, He does. When He tells us that He will grant us eternal life with him in Paradise, we can count on that, too.

PRAYER: O Lord, our Heavenly Father and creator of the universe, we are so grateful that You are a God who keeps His word, that we can believe in Your promises to us. Thank You for your love, your mercy, and your forgiveness. In Jesus’ name,  Amen

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TUESDAYPsalm 119:114 (TLB) “You are my refuge and my shield, and your promises are my only source of hope.”

MEDITATION: “Refuge” and “shield” are recurrent images in the Psalms as King David and his contemporaries pointed to Jehovah as the source who not only could rescue them from danger but would protect them from the onslaught of the enemy’s arrows or spears.

While the Old Testament’s wars and conflicts were real and physical, the New Testament reminds us that we are daily at war with celestial enemies. Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians that “our struggle is … against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)

We are in the midst of a spiritual struggle between a sovereign God who created the universe and His most disobedient creation, a fallen angel – Lucifer – who, filled with rage, vows to sow discord.

We humans are assaulted by our own sinful natures, which gives the devil a foothold into our thoughts, our words, and our deeds. Against this power, we are in desperate need of a Savior, a Lord Protector who can “shield” us against the evil forces and  provide a safe “refuge” from the struggles of physical life.

Not only can Jesus provide that shield and refuge from evil, but He offers us eternal life with Him in Paradise, where tears will be wiped from our eyes, pain will be ended, and there will be no more decay or death.

PRAYER: Our Father God, in a world of pain and sorrow, we take great comfort in Your promise of protection if we just call on You, place our trust in You, and believe in You. You never let us down; You never lie to us; You never forget us. In You, Lord, we are safe, secure, protected, and loved. We give praises to Your Holy Name! In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen

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WEDNESDAYJohn 17:17 (HCSB) “Sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth.”

MEDITATION: In a Bible with so many miraculous, unexplainably wonderful scenes, one of the most humbling is listening to Our Lord pray to the Father for us! Yes, Jesus walked the earth to tell the salvation story to a fallen world in desperate need of redemption only to be rejected by His own; yet, when faced with the work He came for — bearing our sins on the Cross — He prayed for us.

Jesus knew what many of us have been blessed to learn, that God is Truth and outside God there is no truth.IMG_1150

It is by God’s truth that we are saved from eternal punishment, but His truth protects us from our earthly predicaments, as well. When we are faced with our sin — whether it’s anger, addictions, promiscuity, faithlessness, lying, bearing false witness, stealing, disrespecting our parents, provoking our children, ignoring our duties as husband or wife, father or mother, provider or nurturer — His Truth is the way out.

Believing in the Truth of Our Lord brings us peace in this life … and everlasting joy in the next.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we owe You our very lives. Without You and Your plan for redemption, we are simply passing time in struggle until we reach oblivion. Yet, You reach out to help us as we stumble, and You provide a pathway to eternity. Thank You for being Truth, so we have something solid to believe in. Amen

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THURSDAYJohn 8:45 (CEV) “Everything I have told you is true, and you still refuse to have faith in me.”

MEDITATION: How sad. The Lord Jesus gave up the glory of Heaven to walk the earth with us, His creation, with a message of hope. Life can be more than struggle, more than enduring, more than suffering. It can be joyous … and it can be eternal … and yet, they did not believe Him.

We see how the salvation story bears out because we have the advantage of reading (and hearing) the entire story, from the beginning (Genesis) to the end (Revelation), and yet, how many of us fail to believe?

Many say they believe, or at least profess a knowledge of what Jesus has done for them, but do they actually believe? Does His life have meaning for their lives? Is He relevant to their existence?

Jesus proclaimed the Truth, but, sadly, concluded that His creation did not have faith in Him.

PRAYER: O Merciful Father, You are the Lord of lords and the King of kings. Your word is Truth. You alone are God. You created existence with Your breath, with merely the thought, and the universe came into being. How sad that so many of us fail to believe You, and how many of us who claim to believe You, ignore You. Lord, forgive us, and help us see clearly Your Truth for our lives. Amen

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FRIDAYJohn 3:16 (GW) “God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.”

MEDITATION: Today’s Bible verse is the pivotal verse in the entire Holy Scriptures. Those words by Jesus, delivered in love to a disbelieving world hungry for salvation, encapsulates everything the God tries to tell us in all 66 books of the Old and New Testaments: God loves us, and through His Son, Jesus Christ, He has given us the promise of eternal life if we just believe in Him and His Message. It’s just that simple.

The most wonderful part is that God is believable. He does not lie. He does not shade  the truth. He does not mislead. His fingers are not crossed behind His back. He’s not trying to sell us something we don’t want. He’s not accusing us. He just loves us and yearns for us to respond.IMG_0800.jpg

Is this offer available to anyone, or is it reserved for a select few? Let’s let Him tell us in a verse that appears verbatim in both the Old and New Testaments:  Romans 10:13 (NIV)” “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (The verse first appears in Joel 2:32, and the Apostle Peter references it in Acts 2:21).

That seems clear: Anyone and everyone who believes in God’s promise of eternal life qualifies for the offer.

PRAYER: O Merciful Father, You alone can be trusted. You don’t lie; it’s not in Your nature. When You tell us You love us, You sent Your Son to die for our sins, and then, through His resurrection, You assure us of eternal life. Lord, be praised forever! Amen

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SATURDAYRevelation 3:20 (ESV) “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

MEDITATION: What an incredible offer! Here’s the Lord Jesus Christ standing outside a door and knocking. He offers all the riches of Heaven. Eternal life. Complete joy. Exquisite happiness. On the inside of the door is man. A life that’s a fleeting shadow. Pathway of tears. Loneliness. Anger. Resentment. Watching helplessly as death quickly approaches.

There’s the knock again. The offer is still good. Open the door, and I will enter. I promise you. I will enter. When I come in, I will bring with me all of the good blessings I’ve told you about. They’re yours, just by opening the door.

If you don’t open the door, I’ll leave … eventually. It’s your choice. Open the door to eternal life or ignore my offer and perish.

Are we opening the door to Jesus, or are we ignoring Him?

PRAYER: O Lord, what an amazing offer You make, holding out eternal life in your hand for the price of repentance … and You let us choose! It’s our choice whether we want eternal life on Your terms or death on ours. May we hear your knock, O Lord, and fling that door wide open and reach out for Your hug! Amen

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SUNDAY John 18:37 (ESV) “Jesus answered, ‘For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth.’”

MEDITATION:  When the question is asked, “Why did Jesus come to the earth to walk with mankind,” there are many possible answers that Scripture gives us: to give us life abundantly, to fulfill the prophets, to restore a fallen creation to God’s original intent. All are true, but Jesus gave us yet another answer that supersedes all others.

To bear witness to the Truth.IMG_0010.jpg

The world is fallen because men and women have rejected the Truth in favor of a lie. We have let the devil twist God’s intent into an unrecognizable form, and Jesus left Heaven to fix things.

He did so by telling us the Truth. To those who believe Him, He has promised eternal life. As sheep follow their shepherd, the Lord’s followers hear His voice. His message may be foolishness for those who ignore Him, but to those of us who listen, who hear Him, who believe in Him, He is Truth, and His Truth is the very power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18).

PRAYER: O Lord, we are so thankful for Your love and tender mercy. We are thankful for Your patience, Your healing touch, Your grace. Forgive us our hearts of stone. Replace them with hearts that love, Lord. Help us praise Your holy name. May we understand Your Truth, Lord, which is the eternal Word of God. Amen

 

Opposing Sin With Love

In a world with so much sin, so many broken lives, we can draw comfort from this one amazing fact: Jesus loves us and accepts us as we are. He calls us to turn from our brokenness and follow him, and He promises to redeem us to his glory. Amazing Love.

When Jesus stood up, He said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, Lord,” she answered. “Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” John 8:10-11 (HCSB)

JESUS CLEARLY TELLS US to love our neighbors as ourselves, but not to love our neighbor’s sin and certainly not to embrace it. The Lord showed mercy on the woman accused of adultery, which is sinful behavior, but he admonished her not to continue in her sin. Loving our neighbor means helping our neighbor through his or her struggle with sin, not by supporting our neighbor’s sinful behavior.

Today, we’re faced as a country with a cultural divide regarding homosexual or same-sex marriage.

The secular battle lines are drawn between political liberals who believe legally sanctioning “marriage” between two men or two women represents equality and freedom from oppression, that oppression being the bigotry of the majority heterosexual population. They reasonWoman Caught Adultery that the free-flowing love that one man or one woman may feel for a same-sex partner is no threat to their neighbors’ heterosexual marriage and that, after all, society should not be able to dictate their expression of love.

They are opposed by political conservatives who argue that marriage between two men or two women violates long-standing human experience in all parts of the world and, by so doing, upsets or discards received wisdom in favor of current prevailing passion. They say that tradition mandates continuing a marriage arrangement that works, regardless of the divorce rate, and scoff at providing tax breaks for those who want to experiment with settled practice.

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THERE IS A THIRD VIEW and one that too often is ignored: the view of Christ’s followers. For faith-based Christians, homosexual behavior is unnatural behavior contrary to God’s law and contrary to how He made us (Leviticus 18; Romans 1). He has warned us repeatedly from the writings of Moses and the prophets through the teachings of Jesus and the apostles to refrain from sexual immorality.

Such immorality, the Bible says, includes sex with children, the neighbor’s spouse, a close relative, the family pet, or a same-sex partner.

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THE BIBLE ALSO IS CLEAR that we are to love our neighbors and pray for them. Nowhere does it say we are to embrace their sinful behavior, condone it, or codify it into law, nor are we are called to look down upon our neighbor’s sin or rank-order their sin — we have enough sin in our own lives to atone for. All of us have fallen short of God’s glory and are in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23).

Love means joining hands and raising our eyes to the Lord, asking his forgiveness for our sins, and joining in fellowship with others to serve him. Some among us may struggle with homosexuality, some with alcohol addiction, some with lustful hearts or immodest dress, some with uncontrolled anger, but our Lord calls us into fellowship with him and one another to encourage each other (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

We long to hear our Lord say to us, as He said to the fallen woman, “Don’t continue in your sin, but I do not condemn you. I love you, and my mercy abounds.”

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PRAYER: Lord — Help us to see our neighbors they way you see them, as lost sheep in need of a Shepard. You call us to model Christ-like behavior by showing love for our neighbor but that love should manifest itself in helping our neighbor overcome sin, not in supporting our neighbor’s sinful behavior. We’re also called to refrain from judging our neighbor because we also sin. In the Name of Him who knew no sin.  Amen

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Juan 8:10-11 (EM) Entonces Jesús se enderezó y le preguntó: –Mujer, ¿dónde están? ¿Ninguno te ha condenado?
Y ella dijo: –Ninguno, Señor. Entonces Jesús le dijo: –Ni yo te condeno. Vete y desde ahora no peques más.

Touching Christ’s Cloak

Touching Jesus’ cloak. A simple act. Such power in his response. Problem brought; problem solved. What makes the transaction possible? Faith, trust, confidence. ‘Heal me, O Lord, if You will.’ ‘I will,’ He says. ‘Be healed.’ His healing power and our trusting faith yields positive results. Amen

 

Mark 6:56 (HCSB) Wherever He would go, into villages, towns, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged Him that they might touch just the tassel of His robe. And everyone who touched it was made well. 

 

THROUGHOUT THE GOSPELS, we read that common men and women sought just to touch the tassel of the Lord’s robe or let him lay hands on them to make them well, yet in every case, the illness or condition they wanted healed was limited to their physical  bodies.

Woman Touching Jesus
“She came up behind him and touched the edge of his clock, and immediately her bleeding stopped.” Luke 8:44 NIV

Only those religious leaders seeking to trip him asked the important questions about their souls. Even the disciples, who journeyed with him daily, failed to understand who He was (Mark 6:52).

How often do we ask the Lord for limited gifts — an end to sickness, a new job, grace in our marriage, strength during tragedy — when the King of the Universe longs to give us living water. We come so close to receiving everything, yet stop short because we don’t see beyond our immediate physical need.

The apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians (3:20) that the Lord can give us “above and beyond all that we ask or think” and yet, because of our limited faith, we ask for so little. We fail to see the bigger picture.

So often we’re content to touch the Lord’s robe for immediate healing and ignore him when He calls us to follow him. His plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11; Ephesians 2:10) are far grander than what we seek.

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Prayer: Lord, forgive our limited and selfish visions. You offer us living water and a future glory that far surpasses the struggles and failures of our present lives, yet so often we neglect to ask your help in our daily walk. Too often, we’re content to ask for  earthly healing and then we’ll be good on our own. Help us to see our daily and constant need for you. Amen

Marcos 6:56 (EM) Dondequiera que entraba, ya sea en aldeas o ciudades o campos, ponían en las plazas a los que estaban enfermos, y le rogaban que sólo pudiesen tocar el borde de su manto. Y todos los que le tocaban quedaban sanos.