Just a quick one today. Sorry for the late post. Never forget that our Lord is One. He is not many nor does He exist in all things. He is One, and He is transcendent. He exists above and independent from all things. He depends on nothing to exist or survive. He is One and uniquely One. Nothing is like Him, nothing approximates Him, nothing compares to Him. He is. And that is enough.
Do you know what perfection is? Can you define it? Would you be able to recognize it? Could you achieve it? Ugh.
When Jesus makes this statement in the Sermon on the Mount, it would have shaken and challenged them as it still does today. However, as I’ve studied this passage, the word translated ”perfection” might be better translated as ”maturity” or ”complete.” It might be more achievable to be mature or complete as God is because it would be impossible for us to achieve the perfection of God.
But again, this returns me to the initial question. Could you recognize perfection? Do you know what perfection looks like?
When I think of perfection, it is, everything is where it’s supposed to be. There is an order and design. There is beauty and awe in perfection. It is often something we recognize intuitively. We don’t have to be taught what it is because even small children can be in awe of perfection, and only more so as they understand the effort required to achieve it.
In the same way, we notice imperfections, flaws and details that don’t look right. So where does this come from? I put to you that this is part of our design. We were built to recognize such thing s because our Father and Designer is divinely perfect. We are built with His sensibility for perfection. So when Jesus challenges us to be “perfect” as God is perfect we are understandably overwhelmed. It is too much. It is beyond us. We are automatically inclined to disagree with Jesus on this point, or out this off to the super-Christians or the Saints. We can’t be perfect.
But we can. If we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, been baptized into water for the cleansing our souls by His blood, we are justified before God in our faith and receive the grace and forgiveness for our sins. We are perfect before Him. We are perfectly sinless. We are perfectly loved. We are perfectly justified. It’s an awesome moment. I say moment because we are still human. We will not receive a permanent sinlessness until the moment we die and our struggle with sin is over.
We have this hope in us, that each day we strive to obey this command from our Lord, He too is working in us to help us achieve it. Praised be the Name of the Lord.
Paul divides people into two broad categories with this text. On the one hand are those who are led by their flesh and its desires. They are motivated by the world and what pleases themselves. On the other hand are those motivated by what pleases God and they follow the desires of the Holy Spirit. These he says are fundamentally incompatible.
For the one led by the flesh will find himself on the path to death. I’ve seen this in heroin addicts. As an extreme example, the heroin addict is addict to a substance that gives them extreme pleasure, but consumes the rest of their lives. Everything else is forfeit, family, relationships, job, personal health, everything is sacrificed for the sake of heroin. It is that powerful a god. But the god being served is self, because self demands the pleasure that comes from the substance. And often these end in overdosed and death. To a greater or lesser degree, every addiction to self, whether it be substances, lifestyles, work, and even family and church, all of these are pale imitations of what we really need, and this fail to satisfy.
So what were we made for, if none of these other things bring us life? We were made for God, and only God can satisfy our deepest needs. We need belonging. We need relationship. We need satisfaction and contentment. We need trust. We need truth. It’s not your typical needs list, is it? But imagine your life without them.
Every one is offered to a greater or lesser extent by the world. And the world fails to deliver, always demanding more. Yet God delivers on these needs from day one. When you have faith in Jesus Christ, the path of life become clear, and Jesus fills your heart with what you really need, the satisfaction you’ve longed for from all of earth’s pale imitations. With God you belong. With God you have peace and contentment. With God you have genuine, honest, loyal love. God will never lie to you. You may not like what He has to say, but God will always tell you the truth. It’s a powerful thing.
The path of following your own desires leads to death. The other path, following what God wants, leads to real living. There really are only two paths. Which one are you?
Note this says, ”The name of the Lord, ” not just, ”The Lord.” Do you know what kind of protection this is? Do you know what His name is? We often refer to God by this title, ”Lord, ” but does He ever tell us His Name?
Your first thought might be, ”Yes. I remember His name is Yahweh.” True. So what does that mean? How does this name offer protection? Take a look at this fuller explanation of His Name in Exodus 34. This is the name that He gave to Moses to tell the Israelites when He reaffirmed His covenant with them.
“Then the LORD passed in front of him and proclaimed: Yahweh—Yahweh is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth,” (Exo 34:6)
“maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving wrongdoing, rebellion, and sin. But He will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ wrongdoing on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.” (Exo 34:7)
You see, if I am to take God at His word, the protection I can expect from God may be protection from His wrath. God can be very wroth when you sin against Him. But the righteous who obey Him and love Him can expect protection from His retaliation for wickedness and evil. It’s actually a very good thing. Do you see how long He remembers sin? Though God is gracious, and He forgives all who come to Him in repentance, God’s memory is also long against the wicked. And God does not change.
For the righteous, the name of the Lord is a strong tower and the righteous run to it and are safe. Be like the righteous.
This seems like a funny way for God to express His love. In fact, the scholars are a bit divided as to what this means. Some say what is here. God will express His love in quiet ways. Others look to the Greek Septuagint, where it says He will renew His love, or, make His love new again like it was before they had sinned against Him. A third path some suggest is that God’s love will be expressed in such a way that He will be quiet about past transgressions.
This text follows a diatribe about how Israel has sinned against Him and how He is angry with their wickedness. But He longs to restore them and care and nurture them as before. If they would only reach out to Him He would forgive and He would save.
Such a tale could be told today, couldn’t it? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could turn from our sins and turn back to God? And then once He had taken us back in, He wouldn’t say a word about our transgressions. He would simply be quiet in His love. He would be a place of peace and solace where this world offers only hardship and chaos.
Could we consider His offer as we rise on this Sunday morning? Find that place to rest and find peace in Him today. God bless you.
No one is ever truly free. The only free Being is God because He is subject to no one. All of us however are subject to something. In this life, we are slaves to our needs for air, water, and food, however long we think we could hold our breath or go without. If you live in a society in which currency is a necessity, you are never far from obligations if work or bills. If you live in a family, there are surrendered obligations of raising children or meeting your spouse’s needs. Additionally, if you have older family members, you are never far from obligations to meet their needs.
So tell me where I am free? I am free to think, choose and believe. I am free to choose what beliefs govern my life, and how I choose to meet those obligations. I am free to determine the frame of my life, which motivates me to choose certain actions over others. I am free to choose my values. And in the context of this text, I am free to choose God’s values of the world’s values. But to whichever system I choose, I am subject to it and it’s consequences.
Praise God His consequences are joy and peace! His consequences are belonging and hope. With Him there no fear, no anxiety or worry. I am free from the bondage of sin and sorrow and have entered into His glorious presence! If I must be in chains, then let those chains be forged from His sacrifice for me; His love for me never ends. I would give my life for such a One who loves me as God does. Wouldn’t you? Happy is he for whom it is said, ”Well done my good and faithful servant! Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!”