Friday, May 31, 2019
This scripture makes me think of those people I’ve met who are the exact opposite of this angle. When you encounter them, they project a lack of joy and a sense of defeat and despair. They are like Eeyore, whose greeting went something like this, “Good morning… if it is… which I doubt!” They are so consumed with their own problems that they never consider how their greeting could be used to encourage someone else and to be a reminder to them to rejoice in the Lord. They are inward focused and project that focus towards others. This is not to say that we should be hypocritical in our greetings of others, but the truth is that there is always a reason to rejoice in the blessings and favor of God, regardless of how we might feel.
This scripture causes me to ask myself, “When I meet other people, am I a blessing to them, or do I burden them with my own cloudy disposition? In greeting people, do I lift them up or drag them down?” Sometimes, the key to blessing others is to learn to be positive and encouraging when we greet them.
Tuesday, May 28, 2019
God never meant for us to live our religion hidden away of some secluded cloister fighting our inner demons alone. Rather, God meant our religion to be live in the world, as we went about our daily lives. To live a religious life, we need to live our life; keeping the commandments as we go. It is interesting to note that, in rebuking the religious elite who had a knowledge of religion but not a lifestyle of religion, he counseled them, “go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice.’” (Mat 9:13) Sometimes we never fully come to understand and appreciate the commandments of God until we go forth to do them. It is in the going that they begin to make sense.
In seeing this scripture in this light, I must ask myself, “To what degree am I truly living the faith I confess or is it merely head knowledge to which I have added my agreement?” Life must be lived, and true life must be lived in the knowledge and obedience of God.
Monday, May 27, 2019
Understanding this verse in this manner causes me to ask myself, “If Jesus views us as his brothers and sisters, how should I view others around me?” Jesus told us to be careful of titles and of seeing ourselves as being over or above others. He said, “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.” (Mat 23:8) In our western model of church where we so often overlay a business model upon the church with its many layers of authority; with each layer being over another as each layer is beneath another. Within such a model, it is tempting to see people in terms of how they fit into our authority structures rather than simply brothers and sisters. I believe that any church structure or model that erodes the universal brotherhood (and sisterhood) of believers runs counter to the message of Christ. Let us cease looking at others in regard to their position relative to us and let us resume seeing each other as our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Friday, May 17, 2019
In this verse, the people were persuaded to ask “for themselves” to have Barabbas released and for Jesus to be put to death. This was more than political gamesmanship. This was more than a strategic move to have Jesus put to death. This was a personal decision, on the part of the people, for whom they wanted for themselves. For themselves, they wanted Barabbas.
This verse makes me ask the question, “Who do I choose for myself?” Some choose Jesus because others around them do. Some choose him because their parents did. But do they choose him for themselves? This choice of choosing Jesus or choosing someone else is a very personal choice and must be made, not because others do or because of outside influences, but because we choose him ourselves and for ourselves. This is not a decision someone else can make for us; we must make the decisions ourselves for ourselves.
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
It is obvious, in this case, that “price” is a better translation than “honor.” However, what is interesting is, in Greek, honor is related to both value and price. Our honor towards people and things is directly related to both the value we assign to them and the price we are willing to pay for them. For example, if we value our wives and are willing to lay down our lives for them, then we will honor them. However, if we see little value in the people around us, and are not willing to be inconvenienced by their needs, then we will dishonor them in both our attitudes and actions. We will never honor anyone or anything we do not value, and if we do not value them, we will never pay the required price demanded by their value.
Understanding the scripture in this way, causes me to ask myself, “How much do I value the people around me? And what price am I willing to pay for their relationship?” Similarly, “How much do I value God, and how much am I willing to sacrifice for him?” Honor is not some subconscious emotion; it flows from an active determination of the value of other things and it moves us to pay whatever price is necessary for having those things in our lives.
Tuesday, May 07, 2019
What is interesting in this passage is that, in the Greek, the phrase, “Your will be done,” is an imperative (a command). Jesus was not just praying, “What every you want father…” or “If it be your will…” or “You're in charge…” Jesus was actually engaging the will of God and commanding it over his life. Even knowing full well what awaited him, he was so fully committed to God’s will that he was not content to passively wait for it. Instead, he commanded its coming into his life.
This same commanding of the will of God is also found in the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Mat 6:10) Often, when I pray this prayer, I think of all the positive things that accompany his will and kingdom, such as, salvation, healing, provision, mercy, grace, love, etc. However, I rarely think about what the establishment of his will and kingdom in my life might cost me. Often, the path to God’s will and plan for our lives pass through times of suffering, trial, and pain. Understanding the cost of having God’s will and kingdom in this light causes me to ask myself, “Am I just as committed at commanding the will of God over my life even if it might mean seasons of trial and suffering?” My hope is that, like Jesus, I would. No matter the cost, there is nothing that would be more beneficial nor a greater blessing to my life than having the kingdom and will of God come fully into my life.
Thursday, May 02, 2019
In this, we see the root of so many of our troubles. Jesus is desiring to draw us close to him, but we are not desiring. Rather we are desiring to go our own way, to be independent, to live our own life. We are like those in the parable that Jesus taught who said regarding their king, “We do not want this man to reign over us.” (Luke 19:14) It is not even as if Jesus is desiring things that would be harmful, hurtful, or in any way in opposition to our best interests. But we still prefer our own will and continue to seek after the things we desire, not those he desires for us.
Understanding this scripture in this way causes me to ask myself, “Do I desire the things God desires or, like those in Jesus day, am I among those who do not desire; one who desires my own desires and does not desire after the desires of God? The key to desiring the desires of God is to grow in our relationship with him and to learn to delight ourselves in him. If we do, he has promised to “give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalms 37:4) He will not only give us the things we desire, but he will also give us new desires that we might desire after the things he desires for us.