Prayer of Petition

www.bible.com/72/psa.51.1-2.hcsb

Nothing hurts like a broken conscience. It’s when you can’t look a person in the eye anymore, or stand straight before others. When the burden of sin is a constant reminder that you are not a good person. It staggers the walk and stutters the speech. It points to depression and self-harm as the best answers for inner pain. Guilt will force you into decisions that you never thought you would make, and circumstances beyond your control. Who will save us from this body of death?

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! He heals the broken conscience and forgive even the hidden sins. He gives joy for sorrow and love for guilt.

Make today the day He heals your broken and contrite heart. Don’t carry your burdens any longer. Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.

God bless!

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Chastising the Nations

www.bible.com/72/zep.2.3.hcsb

So On first reading of this verse it sounds like Israel is at it again, and Zephaniah is bringing a word of the Lord to correct them. Not so. This is Zephaniah speaking to the nations surrounding Israel, who have been plundering her borders (often used by God to chastise the people of God) now on notice. What is amazing about this is that God is sending His prophet to warn Gentiles.

Unlike Israel and Judah, the Gentiles of the nations have no standing covenant with God, no Sinai moment, and no agreement of behavior with the Almighty, or so we think. On what standing here does God take the nations to task? They come under the covenant made with Noah back in Genesis 9, which applies to all nations. Among other things, Noah’s covenant covers the proper role of capital punishment, taking another’s man life. A nation that kills indiscriminately runs afoul of this covenant. If we know anything of the world of ancient Israel, human life was not precious.

My point is that God holds the nations accountable to Himself, even if they do not have the law of Moses. But as you see in this verse, He also holds open the possibility of salvation from His judgment. Seeking righteousness (according to God’s own standard) and humility, and individual might be safe from God’s judgment upon the whole nation. In this the Jews did have the corner on righteousness, for even then, salvation was found in their teachings of the law (to the extent one could be “saved” through animal sacrifice to the God of Israel). All the world received a covenant through Noah. But only Israel had a way to deal with sin against that covenant. All the other nations invented religions of appeasement that were ultimately false. Only Israel had truth. Thus, seek the Lord (of Israel) and His righteousness and you may be saved. Sound familiar?

It is the same call to the nations today. Seek the Lord (Jesus) and you will be saved by Him through faith. Instead of the incomplete sacrifices of animals, we have the perfect sacrifice of the Son of God which covers all sin for all time. Praise be the name of the Lord who cares even for those not called by His Name.

God bless you today!

The Kingdom of Heaven

www.bible.com/72/mat.18.3-5.hcsb

Recently I have been plagued with this concept of the Kingdom of Heaven, what it is, what it means and it’s relationship to the Church and so on. I have always thought that the Kingdom of Heaven is the Church, at least in its ideal sense. There is only one Church, just as there is one Kingdom, for there is only one King.

When Jesus came preaching the Kingdom of Heaven, He was the ideal herald, as He is the King. Thus He decides who is allowed to be a part of His Kingdom. As the above text illustrates, Jesus accepts faith as a little child as entry into His Kingdom. Now this includes the fine print, as the text says above, whoever converts and becomes like children. Conversion is a messy and complicated business, putting aside old beliefs and adopting new ones, disengaging old gods and encountering the new One. But this is the port of entry into the Kingdom. Jesus died and rise again so that others could enter His Kingdom, by faith, and this become His disciples, His ambassadors to the world.

We preach a coming Kingdom, but in part it is already present. We are it’s outward visible manifestation. If we are not doing our job and promoting it as a desirable alternative to the world’s lusts and trouble, then what are we doing?

Please consider your role today in the Kingdom. God bless you on this Monday.

Answer to Climate Change

www.bible.com/72/psa.24.1.hcsb

Found one! Talk to the Owner. Worried about changing climate and weather problems? Worried about the world getting too hot or too cold? Talk to the Owner. In other words, though there are many things we can do to be good stewards of the environment, only God has the power to effect real change.

One to chew on today. God bless you on this glorious Lord’s Day!

How Would You Answer?

www.bible.com/72/pro.15.1.hcsb

in light of my blog yesterday, it seems Youversion is concerned about the words I speak and my reaction to stress. Interesting. It makes me wonder if they have an actual theme going here or if they are listening through the microphone and giving verses of the day that may be appropriate to my needs. Or, maybe I am just being paranoid.

It’s like when you go to church and the pastor seems to be speaking directly to you. This happened to me Thursday, where the pastor seemed to look directly at me and asked “What’s holding you back?” And then he starting talking about getting exercise and losing weight. Hmmm.

I am not a thin man. I really have never been considered skinny. There are times when I have been lighter, but not thin. Serves me right for attending s church where the pastor is thinner than me. As such I hear this periodically. On the other hand, I’ve never had a situation where being fat has been an issue. It’s not prevented me from doing anything I’ve wanted to do.

All the same, it came down to me as a conviction. As usual.

Truth is I love good food. I like buffets. It has always been a comfort for me. I don’t enjoy being hungry, and I live in a culture where going hungry is a cardinal sin. I also like cheap food, which is usually bad food. (Applying moral qualities to food is one of my pet peeves.) unhealthy food. But when I hear that phrase, I think, “poison is unhealthy food.” Poison kills immediately. Transfats take their time. Sugar kills slowly through its addictive power. We are the most well-nourished people on earth. Also the most depressed, and the most addicted.

I know my food. I usually don’t think about it. Also Thursday, I ate bugs for the first time. That was different. I didn’t think about eating them. I was onstage at church and it was all in good fun. But it didn’t bother me. That’s troubling. It should have at least been a warning. But I chomped away at these things, and I didn’t think about what I was putting into my mouth. Sometimes you have to do that. I ate them because it was all part of the show.

I know none of this has anything to do with the verse above. Because that verse is all about how to respond to prevent violence, which should be how we respond to others in love. It made me think about how sometimes Bible verses strike the heart unintentionally. See you tomorrow.

God bless you today.

Be a Do-Gooder

www.bible.com/72/1th.5.15.hcsb

Ugh. I really don’t like that word. A “Do-Gooder” just seems bland and cliched. In he same vein, a “goody two-shoes” comes to mind, which I found out last week was an actual person, and now used as a paragon of virtue, an example for others to emulate and point to. Be again, it smacks of cliche and unreality. Real people have bad days, difficult times where they slip. A real human being has real human problems, which seem so unlike the stellar phrases above.

And yet here is this text stating back at us. Do good. Always seek to do good, and do not repay evil for evil. If I may, I understand this to be an instruction to us, do good rather then evil, especially when evil is expected. I am human. Because I am human, I more often am prone to react in anger when threatened or wronged. This comes with a choice. I can choose to react violently and “fly off the handle” or I can choose not to, and do something else. I used to not have that choice. Because before I started to follow Christ and received His Spirit into my life, I didn’t have that check on my temper. But now, however brief a time I experience it, it is there, and my renewed conscience comes back into play, so that I am now conflicted. I want to react in evil, hurting the one who hurt me. I know better. And that has made all the difference. This verse reinforces that which I know to be true, but I still need to hear it. I hope it has helped you today too.

God bless!

What is Justice?

www.bible.com/72/amo.5.24.hcsb

Amos seems to be all in when it comes to justice. He wrote these words over 2 and a half millennia ago. The voice behind the words comes from God, who is expressing frustration with the Israelites lack of sincerity in their worship, as their hearts are following false gods and idols. Their worship of God is perfunctory, a duty to be performed rather than a privilege. They would rather be somewhere else while in the Temple of God. Sound familiar?

So the call for justice isn’t about making sure everyone gets a $15/ hr minimum wage, or everyone paying their fair share in taxes. It isn’t about blacks getting equal treatment by cops or that black lives matter. All the recent ink spilled over “justice” has little to do with what God is saying here.

He begins this thought a few verses before in verse 18, asking them why they want the “Day of the Lord” so badly. As far as we can surmise here, they want God’s Day of Justice to occur to mete our punishment on their national enemies, not unlike what we look for today. They were hoping for the Day of the Lord to dish out Justice to all who have burdened them and hurt them so that they would prevail. However, God’s perspective is different. The Day of Justice will not be one of “light” but one of “darkness” for them. They too are in the wrong, and God’s justice will level them as well. His counsel is to work on their own house, being God’s righteousness into their homes and families, into their worship so that they will not be in danger of God’s justice.

Fill your own home and life with the righteousness of God so that when the Day comes, He will not come to judge you too. Good advice. Before you pray for God’s wrath to be visited on your enemies, make sure you aren’t in the way.

Looks like Amos still has something to say to us too. God bless you today!