Love As God Loves

The one who truly loves one’ self does not focus on breaking other people down, in order to uphold their own perceived authority. The only true authority that any one person has is that of which God has commanded, which is to love as God loves. That love does not change because of whom one perceives one self to be or the place one holds in life. There is only one true authority, one true love. This, the believer knows, the believer understands, the believer lives and the believer is made free.

John 8:33-47Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word. Whoever is from God hears the words of God.

Romans 13:1-14‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

Psalm 91

Those who love me, I will deliver;
I will protect those who know my name.
When they call to me, I will answer them;
I will be with them in trouble,
I will rescue them and honour them.
With long life I will satisfy them,
and show them my salvation.

Bless The Child

Thursday:

“You can’t raise a grown child,” is a very popular saying, particularly among parents with grown children. The saying makes perfect sense in light of Jesus response to his disciples concerning who is the greatest in God’s Kingdom. The most influential time in my life was when I was a child. I pretty much believed whatever I saw, whatever I heard and whatever I learned. It didn’t necessarily mean that all of it was true, all that really mattered was what I believed and until something else came along to change that belief, that was what I knew. I believe it is during this time in our life when we are the most vulnerable, take the most risks, and are willing to accept by faith alone that what we are learning in our immediate environment is part of who we are. Most importantly control is not a significant issue because we depend on our immediate environment (home-life relationships) to shape our life. When we finally make the commitment to live a life in Christ, our immediate home-life relationship is now with Christ and all those aspects of childhood become important in this journey. Our growth in the Kingdom of God on earth is dependent on our ability to believe and have faith in God’s authority in our new life as a new creation in Christ, ready to be mentally, spiritually and physically changed. It is at this time when the Seed of Life is falling on fertile ground.

Matthew 18:1-9 ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

A Dog’s Life Justified

Monday

Matthew 15:21-27 Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

You don’t have to have a pet to understand exactly where this Canaanite woman is coming from. In this day and age we can’t deny that there are dogs that live better lives than many people in this world and apparently during Jesus time they didn’t do so bad either. Perhaps it’s just me, but initially, it sounds as if Jesus just called this woman a dog! Some might try to defend Jesus and others stay away from this one all together. I think however it deserves some attention particularly if we find that perhaps we can see our self in place of the Canaanite Woman. She is desperate, and her daughter is ill. What parent would not do what she did. She walks up to someone she has only heard about, someone who is part of another culture and beg for help. In spite of the relationship the Canaanites had with the people of Israel, maybe this person they call Jesus will have compassion and heal her daughter too. After all, her daughter is worth the effort, and if he denies her request she’s no worse off. Only in retrospect, do we know that Christ came for the world (John 3:16). Is she not a part of this world? If he does send her away without the healing she asks for what exactly would that mean for us today? Thus perhaps Jesus’ comment was not necessarily meant to insult her. Perhaps it’s the disciples that need to understand the depth of their own thinking in asking Jesus to send her away. Only Jesus knows at this point that the disciples are the ones who will ultimately be sent out to be healers themselves, particularly once receiving the breath of the Holy Spirit after his ascension (Acts1:8). The language Jesus uses is their language, Israeli “street talk” from the neighborhood. People in fact did have dogs as pets, which benefited from living in the household. It seems to me that in her humility the woman’s response actually shows that she understood the correlation as a benefit, which is quite different from the perhaps narrow vision of the disciples. Jesus’ mission is interrupted, but the woman’s faith cannot be ignored and she is justified at that moment because of it. Whatever the disciples’ biases were concerning this woman before her request, her words to Jesus’ comment is a direct response to the same biases, and prejudices we all experience in the world today. The Canaanite woman’s response also demonstrates the kind of humility we sometimes are not ready to concede before God. The good news is that in spite of who we are or where we are from, faith in Christ is blessed (Matthew 5:3-12). It’s the kind of faith that changes our way of thinking and reconciles us to God’s promises, and especially in difficult times, helps us to be bold in our own requests before the Lord. After all, like the Canaanite woman we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Known By Our Love

Wednesday

1 Corinthians 8:1-13 Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him.

Paraphrasing T.D. Jakes; “If you think you are the smartest person in the room you are in the wrong room. Your penthouse thoughts are God’s basement thoughts.” We’ve all known someone who fits into this category of knowing more, knowing better than someone else. Chances are at some point and time in our life and perhaps more than once we we’ve fallen into this category. Years ago I caught myself correcting my great aunt. She was the oldest of five siblings whose ages spanned 20 years. She outlived them all including my grandfather who was the youngest. I can still remember the embarrassment I felt for presuming her lack of knowledge. This revered member of our family had raised five children of her own and numerous grands, great-grands, nieces and nephews. In spite of my own ignorance her gift to this wretched niece was not to acknowledge or admonish my haughtiness and quietly continue her hospitality. The fact that I remember it today is a testament to her life and mine. I know now that although we were in the same room, she was in a much different place. We are not remembered for how much we know but rather how much we love. More than twenty years has gone by and I am just beginning to achieve the peace that the Spirit had long since gifted to her. No longer am I ever the smartest person in the room. I don’t have to be.

Isaiah 55:8-13 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

John 13:35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’ 

The Days Before

Saturday

Who remembers the days before a tragedy? I once met a gentleman who when he had hit rock-bottom in his life used to ask the question, “Why me?” But as he fought to get back on track and began to look back on the events in his life he began to ask the question, “Why not me?” A play (art imitating life) that depicts a tragic downfall of the main character, and often characterized by a series of events connected by dysfunctional relationships is called a tragedy. The tragic part is that the main character rarely sees the downfall or tragic event coming. All of the events leading up to the downfall are in place but they are either ignored, disregarded or go unrecognized. Only in hindsight when the events are pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle, does the tragic event force the remaining characters (and the audience) to perhaps rethink, re-establish or reconsider their lives. The truth of the matter is tragedies happen in real life, both in the physical (natural) world and in the world of emotions. Days, weeks, months or perhaps even years of circumstances occur before a devastating event takes us by surprise. It happens to all of us individually. It even happens to nations. From lost pension plans to suicide-murders, civil riots to massive bomb attacks we can’t help but ask the question “Why?” because we arrogantly never considered the possibility “Why not us?” Ten years after the 9-11 attacks we know a little more about the days, weeks, months leading up to one of this countries’ largest tragedies. Most of us don’t know what we were doing in the days before. But today let’s take some time to rethink, re-establish and reconsider what we’ve been doing in these days, weeks and years before tomorrow’s remembrance of the 9-11 attacks. While the event will always be a tragedy remembered, hopefully it will also be a tragedy never repeated. Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer.

Romans 12:8 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Luke 21:34-36  Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap.

Ecclesiastes 9:1-12 For no one can anticipate the time of disaster. Like fish taken in a cruel net, and like birds caught in a snare, so mortals are snared at a time of calamity, when it suddenly falls upon them.

God’s Will

Sunday

…all receive mercy

Whether self-inflicted or caused by someone else, more important than our own judgment of guilt or feeling of shame is God’s purpose in our lives. Having once been well fed and in need of nothing, the sons of Jacob, standing before their younger brother whom they threw into a pit and allowed to be sold into slavery, are now begging bread. Joseph’s heart however is not on the “injustice” but rather on God’s hand in his life. It is by God’s grace that he is now able to provide for his family at a time of famine. And what about the Canaanite woman who has lived on the edge of society all her life who by God’s grace leans on the gumption (impression of the Holy Spirit) to boldly approach this Jesus of Nazareth and ask for help not for herself but for her child? Who among us has not walked in the brother’s footsteps, or the Canaanite woman’s path? Is it not true that some of us treat our pets better than we treat one another? Jesus himself could not argue against her request. There is no doubt in my mind that regardless of where we are or how we got there, God wants to bless us. Both of these events help us to understand that God desires to reconcile us back to him and to one another and that in the Kingdom of God all receive mercy.

Matthew 15:10-28 “Yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table

Genesis 45:1-15 And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, …it was not you who sent me here, but God.

Psalm 133 Oh, how good and pleasant it is, when brethren live together in unity.