Archive for October, 2020


“Woe to you scribes, and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others” (Matthew 23:23).

The various and worthwhile causes that compete for our time, attention, and resources can soon take on a “flavor of the day” appeal. The advocacy for justice, mercy, and faithfulness that Jesus envisions, however, isn’t “cause” driven but is a comprehensive and pervasive reality that is to exist because of who we are in Christ Jesus.

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“The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20).

As followers of Christ, we are called to think and act in ways that transcend human nature. In fact, one of the most telling proofs of having experienced God’s forgiveness and boundless mercies is your willingness to offer it to others. The same energy it takes to be rude, critical, judgmental, and accusatory, can be utilized to extend, instead, love, patience, kindness, and other manifestations of the fruit of the Spirit. We are at our best erring on the side of grace and leaving judgment to the only One who knows all things.

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“Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).

Any transaction requires two or more parties acting for mutual benefit. In this case, man is pursuing what God has to offer, while God extends with compassion the redeeming grace he longs for us each to experience. Forsaking one’s way is the action of repentance; exchanging one course of life for another. It is the abandonment of all the natural, intuitive ways upon which man acts for his own self-preservation and promotion, for the supernatural, self-sacrificing ways that God sets within the transformed heart.

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“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near” (Isaiah 55:6).

That God’s forgiveness, and his many other spiritual blessings, are discovered only in our seeking and calling does not mean they are hidden; that they are things God would prefer to withhold. Seeking and calling speaks to the urgency of the hour and what must be our undistracted pursuit if they are to be experienced. It’s the realization that the Spirit of God will not always strive with man (Genesis 6:3). That is, say “No” often enough to the promptings and leading of the Holy Spirit and, eventually, you can become so desensitized and indifferent that He cannot even break through the hardness of the calcified human heart. Today is called the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2) because it is the only day of which you can be certain.

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“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near” (Isaiah 55:6).

To be sure, God’s grace doesn’t negate human responsibility. Just as God took the initiative in accomplishing the forgiveness he longs for all humanity to experience (Isaiah 43:25; 44:22), we must be no less proactive in its pursuit. Seeking the Lord and calling upon Him are active imperatives exercised by those intent upon discovering and experiencing the offerings of God. The working of God’s Spirit upon the human heart is always persuasive but never coercive. While he may stand at the door and knock, he will never kick it in. It is a door you must open.

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“Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation. His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; in that very day his thoughts perish” (Psalm 146:3-4).

In days of political unrest consolation replaces despondency when we recall the contrast between mortal rulers and their temporal kingdoms, and the eternal God and his everlasting Kingdom. Whether a prince of a monarchy or the president of a democracy, worldly powers utilize processes and means to achieve ends that stand in opposition to the kingdom of God. If one must be partisan (and we must), be partial to the Kingdom that Jesus said is not of this world.

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“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matthew 6:26).

The kinship we have with the rest of God’s created order is that we are both sustained by the faithful provision of God. Our greater value, however is evidenced on several fronts: we are created in the image of God; we are ascribed a mission and purpose of service that the rest of creation is not. To hear the One that speaks through his living Word means we possess that which does not arise from the natural order of things. When you take the time to look, it is easily seen.

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“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

To be sure, God has a design for marriage that honors him. In marriage counseling, husband’s will, on occasion, point an accusing finger at the wife while stridently quoting the verse of scripture about wives submitting to their husbands. Strangely, I have never heard a man quote the above verse, which I consider to be the greater burden of responsibility in a marriage. Every devoted follower of Christ, married and single, should commit this verse to memory and understand it as the guiding principle for the home committed to the Lordship of Christ. Ladies, this kind of man will diligently seek to protect your reputation and your witness and would never ask you to compromise either of these for the sake of convenience or his needs. The man who understands what it is to give himself up would never ask you to give yourself up to cultural practices over biblical expectations.

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“And no resident will say, ‘I am sick;’ the people who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity” (Isaiah 33:24).

Spiritually, psychologically, and physically, guilt and shame take a toll on one’s overall wellness. One of the Old Testament words for forgiveness, nasa, is quite picturesque. It means to lift off, carry, or take away. In the light of this, we must labor intently to view ourselves through the lens of God’s forgiveness rather than the mirror of our flaws.

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“I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud and your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you” (Isaiah 44:22).

Humanity is now without excuse. All barriers have been removed. God has squared all accounts and it is now possible live in relationship with him, forever protected by his grace. While the Accuser seeks to weaken us with haunting thoughts of past failures, we are strengthened by a faith rooted in what God’s grace is accomplishing in our lives today. If one is to move into the future God has in store, his forgiveness must be embraced with no less conviction than the belief that Jesus is Lord. Do not make immovable what God has already removed.

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