Turning Back

www.bible.com/1713/act.3.19.csb

I believe that many have no problem with repentance, in that they are sorry for what they have done (sorry they got caught?) and don’t want to face the consequences of their actions. Many who have been addicts, or prone to certain behaviors are sorry that what they’ve done have brought them to ruin. They hate themselves. They vow to never return.

But that’s the other part of repentance. Never turning back. Many can’t resist returning to the pleasures of sin for another season. The Siren song keeps calling them back. We are like moths attracted to the one thing that will destroy us. How are we so dense?

I have always believed that sin makes you stupid. Sin strips away your reason, your thinking, your logic. It leaves you bare to be discovered. Those that get away with it want to be found out. It is contrary to our nature to live contrary to truth and reality. We must be true, even if it means we will be punished.

So where do you stand on repentance? Where do you stand in it? Are you in need of some repentance right now? Turn away from the sin that so easily besets you and put your eyes on God. God bless you today.

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Never Too Late

www.bible.com/1713/deu.6.4.csb

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.

I Didn’t Do It

www.bible.com/1713/jas.4.17.csb

You had me until here, James’ little book about being a Christian. James is always challenging. James reminds us this morning about sins of omission. What is that? A sin of omission is when not doing something is the wrong thing to do. Wait! How can I her in trouble for NOT doing something?

A few days ago I attended a workshop on elder abuse and negligence. Sometimes adult caregivers do not provide food, bathing, or adequate care for their elderly relatives. This is called neglect. It is not an active abuse, but a passive one. Elderly patients need help to do normal, everyday tasks, like going to the bathroom, eating, getting dressed and so on. To withhold assistance in a clear case of need is neglect. A person can be charged with a crime if they neglect the care of an elderly person. Yes. You can get into trouble doing nothing.

The Bible takes it a step further. To withhold good when it is in your power to do so is a sin. This always convicts me when I pass a homeless person, or see the chance to participate in a anti-abortion event. It may also include attending a church, or praying for someone in need, or any number of things I haven’t thought of yet. Once we’ve conquered the realm of sins we can commit, there’s a whole other world of sins we commit by doing nothing.

Thanks James. Well, I guess I have something new to think about today. God bless in your journey this Monday!

Life-Giving Rebuke: an Oxymoron?

www.bible.com/1713/pro.15.31.csb

What?

What did this verse just say? Did this verse say that rebuke can give you life? If you’re like me, you hate to be called out and challenged in your facts. It’s embarrassing and humiliating to find out you are wrong. And not just wrong in your opinion, but in your carefully research facts. That’s when my adrenaline starts to pump and I get defensive, feeling trapped and desperate, trying to save scraps of my dignity. I really hate rebuke.

That’s why this verse is very important for me, because I have been wrong, and I needed to be called out on it. But this verse speaks of life-giving rebuke. It is a rare variety. Not many are willing to give it, willing instead to tear down and destroy rather than build up and encourage. It seems most critical discussion has no desire to work together to a solution, but to endlessly lambast and denigrate until one side gives up and goes home.

I hope I’ve learned something from the rebuke I’ve received. I have tried to discern constructive from destructive and learn to take good advice and improve. I still learn, and still fight the urge to become defensive. And sometimes I let my passive-aggressive side show a little bit. But I hope I’m better than I was.

Because if you want to be seated with the wise, you have to learn to take your licks. If you want to hang out with those that know, you have to be willing to learn.

That’s all I’ve got today. I hope you have a great Saturday. God’s blessing on you today and your work in the Lord.

Health Plan

www.bible.com/1713/luk.9.24.csb

Just a quick note today. What is your priority when it comes to your healthcare plan? Jesus reminds us that if it’s anything, it needs to keep Him in mind. Losing your life may be tragic, but if the Lord is involved, your life will be saved. But if your primary concern is saving your life, then you will certainly lose it.

We find in this that no one really has control over their own life. Who of you can predict if you will be alive 24 hours from now? Why not spend your life for His sake? That’s where eternity is.

Hard Act to Follow

www.bible.com/1713/gal.5.25.csb

This verse has always intrigued me. I understand what it means to live by the Spirit, which living by the will and direction of God as revealed in His word. The Bible was written by the Spirit, so to live by the Spirit is to live by the Scriptures. I try to do that daily. It’s not easy, but it is a standard I’ve tried to live life by.

On the other part, well, have you have danced with a Bible? Or tried to keep pace with someone who is invisible? Yeah, well, I haven’t. And this is the part that intrigues me. ”Keep in step with the Spirit” should be something I can do, since Paul makes that a part of our Christian Living. But what does it mean?

Well, if you do a little word study, the Greek that lies behind this word has the sense of marching while other translations offer ”walk with the Spirit.” The word implies walking in ranks, or in rows. Soldiers march in orderly rows. To “keep in step” is to match your stride with the Spirit’s lead.

Something else I might mention. The verb in question is in the plural. The command isn’t to us individually, but to us as a group, which we might expect given the nature of the word. The command is to all Christians to march together, with the Spirit leading us in step. Now that makes much more sense.

That also makes this much harder in practice. My ability to walk in step with the Spirit now depends on my ability to keep in step with others who are also marching to His beat. This isn’t about my own ability to walk with the Spirit, as some translations may imply. This is about our ability to march together. I dare say we have had many problems with this.

Where I work, we have a number of religious designations. We have Jewish, Other, None, and about 13 brands of Christianity. I guarantee that these do not march in step with each other, and each would prefer to be in their own armies altogether. What happened to us? (That is a rhetorical question. I know what happened, and it is long and complicated.)

In the very letter Paul wrote these words, He was arguing against the Judiazers, a conservative wing in the Christian movement that desired to see new Gentiles convert to Judaism to become real Christians (because Jesus was a Jew?). From the beginning, the church has had challenges to its ability to march in step, with some falling behind and others moving too far forward. The orders of the Spirit become too faint against the rhetoric and argument we exchange with each other on the interpretation of those orders. It seems natural to me that not everyone will be doing the same thing, since we differ in gifts. But we all ought to agree on our general direction, the source of our authority, and who is giving the orders. When Spirit and man differ, who do we listen to? When a man calls a group away from the rest, is he following the Spirit? When the army no longer follows the Scripture, has it forfeited its leadership to follow something else?

Paul, and Scripture, has this way of showing us the mirror and the truth of who we are and what we’re doing. Getting into this Word means heeding the call of the Spirit. Thank you for joining me this morning on this little excursion. You may now resume the march. God bless.

The Root of the Law

www.bible.com/1713/mat.22.37-39.csb

At the base of the formidable tower that is the Law is inscribed these two, Love God and Love your Neighbor. The first is featured prominently, the second, somewhat obscure. The first is found early in Deuteronomy as a command laid upon all Israel. The second is situated in the middle of Leviticus as something of a commentary on relations with your neighbor.

Yet, these are the two that Jesus cites as the foundation of the rest of the Law. And the more you think about, His legal insight is exquisite. Everything we do here on earth really falls into one of these two areas. It’s a given that we know what love is (and may I remind you that the definition of ”love” has never been under more attack than today) and it’s also a given that we know what it means to love ourselves. With families breaking down everywhere, it’s harder to define from our hearts what love is.

Today, practice love. Practice this kind of love. Love with all your heart, soul and mind, and with all your strength. May God bless you work today.