Good Gifts

www.bible.com/1713/luk.11.13.csb

I think I know better than to give my children things they can’t handle. Jesus says you would not give your child a snake or a scorpion if they ask for an egg. We know better then that. If my child asks for some food, I don’t give him a spider. We are not that cruel. Even cruel people don’t do that to their own children, at least I hope not. There are always exceptions.

But Jesus’ point here that that even we, who are evil by God’s standards, are not so cruel to our children so that we willingly hurt them when they ask for a gift. We may not give that exactly what they want, but what we think they need, in order to help them. My kids would ask for carbs and sweets, but they get proteins and veggies because that’s what they need. But as a father, I know them well enough to give them what they really want on occasion. And that’s a key point. If you know your kids, you know what gifts make their heart sing. And if I know my own children in this way, God knows us even better.

So when we ask God, He knows what we want and what we need. He also knows how to bless us that truly satisfy us. I believe God will occasionally bless us in a way that doesn’t necessarily exalt Him, But is something that makes us really happy. Sometimes God gives because He wants to see us smile, not for His own glory but for ours. Mind you this doesn’t happen often, but I believe it does happen.

What have you asked for lately?

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A Father’s Compassion

www.bible.com/1713/psa.103.13.csb

Happy Father’s Day to all the men who have sired progeny today. This day we set aside to honor and remember those men whom we call “Dad” above others. Some memories are harder than others. For some, dad was a hard-nosed disciplinarian. For others, he was non-existent, or cruised from day to day from his recliner and never-ending case of beer.

No surprise, dads are human. As one Scripture says, our fathers disciplined us the best they knew how. I empathize with those whose fathers were less than ideal.

But that’s the thing, isn’t it? Regardless of what kind of father you had, you had a better picture in mind. It’s funny, even children raised by bad fathers can tell something isn’t right. It’s like we have this implanted knowledge of proper fatherhood, and when we become fathers, we suddenly feel nervous because we feel we will fail that inbuilt standard.

That’s why today I want to draw attention to this verse, because compassion is something we seldom associate with fathers. Discipline, angry outbursts, hard working, but compassion? We see that come out in grandfathers, seeing their grand babies for the first time, and feeling like God has given them another chance. I think grandfathers may feel the grace and forgiveness of God more acutely.

Compassion is a gift given where it is not deserved. You can’t earn compassion. It is given freely and with no expectation, and when fathers are expected to raise kids according to rules, learning the helped knocks of life, compassion seems like an extra lesson. More than this, it is the measure of a good father. A father who exercises compassion is the reason we have a Father’s Day today, because a little girl once thought there ought to be a day to honor men like her father.

Father I want you to do a compassion check today. Do you care when your child is sick, or your wife is hurting? Do you seek your child’s best interests, or your own? What is more important, your needs or your wife’s? If you were able to answer in love, you are probably doing okay.

Men, I want to encourage you today to take after your Father. He has called you to be His witness to your family of His love and grace, as well as His justice. MY you find that just as sensitive a balance as I have.

God bless you all!

So What’s the Promise?

www.bible.com/1713/eph.6.2.csb

We have a lot of Scripture to thank the Apostle for. We can attribute much of our daily practice and theology to him. Which is why this passage presents us with a problem.

Paul has written elsewhere that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the law, and that we are no longer under the law, but under grace. That said, he presents this text “Honor thy father and thy mother”, the fifth commandment, complete with its context, for this commandment contains a promise “that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land” the Lord God is sending you to, i.e., the land of Israel. Here’s why this is a problem.

The promise of the fifth commandment is to the people of Israel, so that they could occupy and inhabit the land of promise indefinitely. The promise involved a particular piece of real estate. However, Paul does qualify this promise in its original context. Instead, his quote ends at ” land”. The problem, one might argue, is that Paul is appropriating the land promises made to Israel and passing them on to the Christians of his day. In a greater argument that Paul is extending the promises (and obligations) given to Israel are also to Christians. That’s a lot of weight to put upon one verse, especially taken out of context of the rest of Paul’s words.

Rather, Paul is extending the promise here made to Israel by observing a different focus. His focus is on the promise of “long life” rather than the land. The land here really could be anywhere Christians find themselves. The strength of this promise comes from the authority of God Himself. So why do Christian children, who have honored this commandment, still die young?

Let me present the third possibility. That the land of long life promised here isn’t eighty years and dying of old age. What’s in view here, a child that honors his father and mother by clinging to the God that saved them is a child who is promised eternal life in the land God has prepared for them.

If we are honoring father and mother, we are working out God’s will in our lives. We are honoring those He chose to bring us life, and this is important, whether we actually respect them or not. Being able to honor them is to fulfill the commandment, and to honor the God that maybe even despite them, brought you to Himself.

Not every parent is perfect, and many don’t come close. But the commandment of God is non-negotiable. Honor means respect, both in life and in memory. Honor can be honest, but it must be respectful. If you have good parents, this is easy. If not, this is one of your greatest challenges. But know that we are all in this together. If you need help, ask. Let us pray with you.

I hope you can have a happy Father’s Day. God bless you all!

His Holy Dwelling

www.bible.com/1713/psa.68.5.csb

Does God Care? He doesn’t have to. God exists in His Holy Dwelling infinite, eternal, needing nothing. In His palace He reigns supreme over the universes, the realm of the spirit and our own realm. He also exists in His own realm, the realm of uncreated Being, where He alone exists. His Being unveiled in His fullness would destroy all created realms and beings. Therefore, God chooses to reveal Himself in veiled form, dwelling as a “King” in His Heavenly palace, or a s a “Father” to His “Son”. The truth is that God is so much more awesome that we can imagine that we could not have invented Him, because we don’t know what He is, really, for that knowledge would be too much for us to grasp.

This is the God who cares. He cares for those so far beneath Him as to be microscopic. Why? Because we contain one unique quality in all of creation: He made us in His image, a concept that we still argue over today.

This verse points his care for widows and the fatherless. These two groups are considered because in the culture of Psalms, these groups are irrelevant because the culture was tied to family relationships. Broken families such as these were second or third place in that society. We still carry some of that water in our own culture.

By caring for those considered least, we know that God cares for the whole. God cares for us all equally, as He is often a father to those whose father is unavailable. He is a husband to those wives who feel alone. God fills in the gaps in your life. In a very real sense, He does this through HIs people, which is why I encourage you to attend a local congregation if possible.

Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you. God bless you today.

Love Covers

www.bible.com/1713/1pe.4.8.csb

Brother Peter calls us to love this morning. He reminds us of the great commandment Jesus gave us, love one another, by saying we should remain constant in our love for one another. He adds here from Proverbs 10:12 that love covers offenses, or as he says, a multitude of sins. This should say something to us believers today.

You ever been offended by a fellow believer? Does the sun rise? Do people get on your nerves? Peter subtly acknowledges that yes, Christians can step on each other’s toes. So he reminds us of what Jesus said. Jesus said this, not just anyone. Love one another. This is the core of our relationships, the primary rule that binds us together. Love one another as He has loved us. Does it sound like he’s trying to say something here?

As a human being, Peter, probably more than most, knows we are prone to argue. He had disagreements with Jesus and Paul. So he knows how important it is to love one another, and how love covers offenses. I am looking at you Christian who holds a grudge against your fellow believer. Who remembers that wrong they did years ago and now you are holding it against them when they suggest the church support a mission or engage in a new project. I am looking at you Christian who hates other Christians because they don’t believe in the same way you do, or, heaven forbid, they dare to use instruments in worship.

This isn’t just about Christians in the same fellowship, though that’s bad enough. But it’s also also Christians of different *gasp* denominations. Christians have proved to the world over how important it is to be right. Let’s try also to prove how we love one another. If I recall, Jesus did not make the great commandment, be right at all costs, even if it costs Fellowship.

Now you may complain at this point and say, “I can’t fellowship with those who say gay is okay.” (As an example). If gay behavior is a sin (and I believe it is), how can I fellowship with Christians who don’t believe gay behavior is a sin? (Note: gay behavior is a sin in Scripture. Gay list would also be sinful, but to simply to be attracted to same sex people is a temptation, not a sin.) if they cannot be convinced of what the Bible plainly says, even at that, are be better of as Christians being hateful or being compassionate? Even Paul advocates separating from believers living in open sin, for a time, to give them time to repent, so that the sin would not taint the community.

I know these issues can be sharply divisive, but do we deal with each other according to the law or according to grace? In truth or in love? We are to speak the truth in love. We are to maintain love for one another, but not at the cost of truth. Even then, love should govern us, even if it means a temporary separation. Too long, and grudges set in, and they set harder than concrete.

A brother offended us harder to win than a strong city.

Just some thoughts today. Welcome your comments on this one.

No Records

www.bible.com/1713/1co.13.4-5.csb

Do you keep records? I’m not talking about the old 33 1/3’s or the 45’s, but records of transactions, purchases and debts. I am told I am to keep records of such things for seven years for IRS purposes, but I probably keep them longer than that. These records are important for legal reasons, but also as a record of my history.

I think it’s important to remember where you came from, especially on those dark days when you feel God is far from you. He often reminded Israel of her history, “Remember when you were slaves in Egypt” and He freed them, or when He parted the sea before them, and they crossed on dry land, or the many times when He saved them from opposing armies, sometimes even wiping them out. History is important to God, and it should be to you.

When you are going through hard times, do you remember when God saves you through them, when He healed an ailment or saved you from injury? When he brought someone home or sent someone else away?

God wants us to keep a record of these things. But there are other things He doesn’t want us keeping records of. Because if we say we love, then we don’t keep records of wrong. Cherish the good memories, shun the bad. What is He talking about? The List.

The List always comes out in an argument between couples (and parents and children, between adult siblings, even friends) as a record of all those reasons you can’t trust someone else to do something. It usually starts with “Remember the time you . . .?” This is what the text is talking about. Remember the time you stood me up at my mother’s funeral? Remember the time you said you would cover taking care of dad, and then went on vacation? Remember the time you borrowed $5000 and told me you would pay me back? Sound familiar?

Love isn’t stupid, and is does call for some trustworthiness. But just as you have been loved, so you ought to love others. Does God remind us of our past failures? Praise God He does not. Instead, He gives grace. But God is also wise. He loves us unconditionally. But He trusts us with a little before we are given more responsibility. We have to grow and develop our relationship with Him, and that doesn’t come all at once. But we grow, from little faith to greater faith, from immaturity to maturity.

We love our children the same way. We begin relationships this way too. We put more investment into relationships that can handle it. When we are betrayed, or or trust is broken, we still love but trust must be earned again in a spirit of forgiveness.

That said, addiction is the surest test of this idea. Those who are addicted to drugs don’t care about relationships when they are seeking their next fix. While you love them, you cannot trust them. That is a hard place to be. My heart goes out to those situations. The only solution I can offer there is hope that the addict wants to put aside his addiction and heal. Pray for this, because any treatment for an addict who doesn’t want it is useless.

Love does not keep a record of wrongs. Wow.

God bless you today!

Sons of God

www.bible.com/1713/mat.5.9.csb

This has always intrigued me. There is One Son of God. There can be only one Son who takes away the sins of the world. Yet, in this translation, and I believe rightly so, is the word translated “sons” to really make us think about. E implications of this text.

The very work Christ did was to make peace between God and Men by offering Himself in their stead. The very essence of peacemaking here is “take me instead” as the subject of wrath.

That gives new meaning to peacemaking, doesn’t it?