Monday Cure

www.bible.com/1713/jer.17.14.csb

As much as we hate Monday’s, this is one of those that’s not so bad. Today is Labor Day and it is a federal holiday, so anything that can be closed is closed. Which means I am on-call today instead of actually going in. Such is the life of a Chaplain.

Ironic then we have this text today. For all of Jeremiah’s pleas for salvation and safety, God’s response to Him seems odd. God tells him to go to the Kings’s gate and tell the people not to work on the Sabbath day by bringing in loads through the gate. Here, let me show you.

“This is what the LORD says: Watch yourselves; do not pick up a load and bring it in through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day.”  (Jer 17:21)

Now it seems ironic to me, since this is Labor Day, that God’s warning to Jeremiah and to Judah is about labor. They wanted to work so much (and make some extra money) that they wanted to work on a day God has set apart for rest. Later on, God appeals to this desire by saying He wOuld make them a great and powerful nation if they would just honor Him on this one day is the week, and not work on the Sabbath.

Labor Day is not a Sabbath, but it can be and often is a day if rest from our usual labor. Maybe we could go the extra step today, instead of celebrating ourselves, to actually use it to honor God. For Christians, every day is the Lord’s Day, for in Him we live and move and have our being. Everywhere we go is the church, because we are the church.

So if you are off today, make some time to rest in the Lord, have some prayer, do a devotion or two, but make today holy, for He has made you holy.

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Thirsty

www.bible.com/1713/jhn.7.38.

Did you come thirsty this morning? Looking for a cool glass of encouragement? I do too. Every morning I come to this well of the Spirit to see what new treasure I might find. This morning I found another.

What streams of living water could Jesus be taking about here? This same word picture is described in Isaiah:

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your descendants and My blessing on your offspring.”  (Isa 44:3)

When we put our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and we are baptized in the very real act of immersion in water, we receive His gifts, namely, remission of sin (that is, we are justified before God as if we never sinned because we are purified through the blood of Jesus), we receive the gift of eternal life (starting at that moment, a life more abundant and more fulfilling than before), and we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. We cannot earn this gift. It is freely given. He comes and dwells within us, so that we become a life-giving stream of water for others. We aren’t intended to be a dam for the presence of God, but a flowing stream, so that others may cool themselves in our presence. That is an amazing gift of God, in which we may participate in His holy work.

Jesus invites you today to join His work by faith, so that you have have the same effect He did upon others, being gracious and kind, but also firm in your conviction of good and right. Would you be a stream for the presence of God? Would others be thirsty for that holy presence in you?

The Unseen Dimension

www.bible.com/1713/2co.4.18.csb

Are there aliens among us? Is there another dimension in which life exists? The Bible seems to say so. In fact, we are told to actually believe in these extra-dimensional beings. We are told that they are responsible for the creation of our realm. Weird, huh?

The popular conception of aliens is that they too are created or evolved beings. But we would only be partially correct. The unseen dimension was created, but by a greater unseen Being, the creator of all things. Wow.

As Christians, we have this powerful recourse to the King of the Universe. The things we see around us matter and are real as far as it goes, but we also know that the unseen, the original eternal realm of God and His servants the angels lie behind it along with the enemy and his cohort. That is behind the world we see, behind the enemies we fear, and the protection we seek.

I encourage you today to take this verse to heart. Our God is unseen, but more real and powerful than reality. Focus on our eternal obligations and our Eternal King and our present troubles will diminish by comparison.

God bless you today.

Standards

www.bible.com/1713/mat.7.1-2.csb

Our standards have a way of creeping up on us when we least expect them, especially when when our children remind us of them. “But Daddy, you said people like that go to hell. Are they in Hell Daddy?” Ouch.

I’d like to think I’ve mellowed a bit over the years, but I’m not perfect. I used to believe suicide was a certain ticket to the realm of the wicked, simply because a suicide’s last act is murder, but now I know that not everyone is thinking clearly when they decide to kill themselves, nor can we know their state of mind after the fact. Do some not immediately regret their decision? Do some not immediately repent?

These are positions I would not have understood when I was young and idealistic. When I saw the world as more black and white. It’s taken time and experience to understand that people don’t work that way.

So now when I run into folks whose lifestyles and positions I don’t agree with, I don’t jump to conclusions as to the kind of person they are. I can’t know that. I may make snap judgments based on the type of person I come into contact with, but I have learned that my first impressions are subject to change.

So where am I going with this? This particular text has been used and abused by Christians and non-Christians alike. The phrase “Do not judge” I would argue has been applied back to Christians by non-believers citing this verse as a defense for whatever they want to do. Christians, they argue, have to say in one’s behavior, because Christians aren’t to judge.

So what kind of judgment is in view here? The key to understanding this text is the word translated “standard” which point to actions or activity. The Bible also says, “a tree is known by its fruit.” (Matt 12:33) You can tell what kind of person you are dealing with by observing their actions. You can tell if you want to associate with a person based on their fruit and the personal standards you have for fruit-bearing. We do this all the time, and we don’t even think about it because its ingrained in us to use this kind of judgment to base relationships.

But as in all things, we can takes this to extremes. What Jesus warns us here about isn’t about judging per se, but using an overly critical standard by which to judge. Do you see the fruit and immediately that such a person is a bad person, or do you give them the benefit of the doubt? Would you want someone else to give you time to get to know them, to know your story before they decide they don’t like you? The warning is about jumping to false conclusions based on little information. The command isn’t so such to judge (which we all do) but against being judgmental. We all have standards and ought to practice them. The Scripture also warns us against hanging out with “bad company” because “bad company corrupts good morals.” (1 Cor 15:33)

So as you interact with others today, be careful not to jump to quick conclusions about people. Give them time to tell their story, and you then earn the right to tell yours. You earn the right to tell them about Jesus. God is calls us to make connections with people and introduce them to the Savior. As you go today, make disciples. Make friends of God’s children, but watch that you too will not be distracted from your mission.

God bless you today

The God Who Protects

www.bible.com/1713/psa.91.2.csb

If you were to read this Psalm in total, you will find a God who protects from physical danger, from damage in warfare, from plague and pestilence. This is a God who will protect you from all harm at all times because you are His child.

That sounds awesome!

This is also he Psalm the devil quotes to Jesus in an effort to tempt Him to jump off the Temple’s pinnacle. He quotes this Psalm saying that God will protect Him from dashing his foot against a stone. Jesus’ response is simple. Dt 6:16 “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

Don’t try it.

This is the same Son of God who was crucified, after being scourged mercilessly, on a Roman cross and then died. Surely, if anyone deserved the protection promised by this Psalm, wasn’t it Jesus?

Yet even reminded of this Psalm, Jesus refuses to play into the Devil’s hand. If I speculate, I’m sure Jesus would have been just fine had He cast Himself from that height, but that wasn’t His purpose, showing His raw power like that to get followers. That’s not how you build God’s church.

He also may have died, an overly common death, with no meaning. It would not have accomplished the later purpose of salvation through His blood. He couldn’t have risen with the same aimlessness, because this was giving in to temptation. That wouldn’t work either.

All of that to say that Jesu’s response ought to be our response. If you are tempted to tempt fate as it were and cast yourself upon the promises of this Psalm and demand that God protect as He promised, Jesus’ words come back to us. “Don’t test Him.”

Why not?

I would be interested in your thoughts below.

Looking Forward to It

www.bible.com/1713/rev.21.4.csb

What keeps you motivated through the slog that is daily life? Through the daily temptations, and sometimes the cycles of sin, guilt, and forgiveness to try holiness again, what keeps you going and gives you hope?

For me, it is this promise of heaven. Not all the time, not everyday, but when I have a chance to think and remember, it is this. We were born for more than this world can offer. We were born for eternity. So while the daily grind grinds me down, I have only to remember why I am here, how I am being purified and refined for a greater destination.

Yeah, it’s high-minded and “pie-in-the-sky”, but a day is coming when it won’t be hope, but real. That will be a good day.

That was Today?

www.bible.com/1713/1pe.5.6.csb

One of my favorite comic panels featured two dinosaurs standing on a small island with Noah’s Ark floating in the distance. Obviously the Flood has already started and one dinosaur says to the other (apparently in regard to their invitation to board said Ark), “That was today?” It embodies the anxiety of missing an appointment, in this case one very important.

The verse above reminds me that we never have enough time to prepare for our Big Appointment with Jesus if we aren’t already working on it. I run into many people who didn’t plan on going to the hospital, let alone getting into a situation where their life is at stake. No one I’ve spoken to in the ER, families of people who have died, ever planned for it. They are seldom dressed for the occasion. It is not unusual to have the same reaction as the dinosaurs.

Instead of being surprised, God tells us to plan ahead. Humble yourself. Don’t think you are all that and immune to God’s judgment. Rather be ready at all times, be that one that says, “God, I am at your service. I will do as you will.” For God looks at the heart, not the outward man. God seeks the meek and the humble to do His will, not the proud.

At the right time, at the perfect time, God will exalt you. So let God do the boasting. Let God do the clapping for a job well done. And you may be surprised when the day comes, but you will rejoice to hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”