Wednesday’s Word: Secure

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We live in a time when insecurity runs rampant, infecting and affecting even believers.

In many ways we are similar to those who walked with Jesus. We are surrounded by religious professionals whose focus on perfection and rule keeping, leaving us wondering if we’ll ever be good enough.

The question which feeds the insecurity seems to be: “how will I really know if I’m going to make it?” This is usually followed with some form of confession: you don’t know what I’ve done.

The verse on our meme today comes from Romans 8:39, and Paul is pretty clear: NOTHING. Nothing we’ve done. Nothing we’ve said. Nothing that is happening to us.

God want us to know we are secure in him.

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Message Meme: Don’t Take It

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Have you ever stolen something?

I’ve always hated that question. Mostly because I have to own up—yes, I have.

I took penny candy from the Fast Food Market in grade school.

Last week I even took a pen from the office where I was taking a class the other day.

I took a few extra minutes on my break a couple of jobs back.

I took five extra miles per hour on my way to the meeting I’m at.

I robbed someone of a blessing by declining their kind offer of assistance.

I robbed God of his glory by not giving him the credit due, or sharing his love.

I don’t think I’m in this boat alone. We could probably all own up to taking what isn’t ours. That’s what makes this commandment so important.

But why are we so prone to take what isn’t ours? More on that in Friday’s Sermon Seeds.

Prayer thoughts: Father God, this rule is hard. And the reasons we take are only symptoms of a greater heart issue. Help us to trust that you really do give us what we need so we can turn from this insatiable consuming greed—thinking we need more than we do. I want to be done with that apple. I want to bask in your lavish love and ample provision. Now, and always. Amen.

Selah: Listen

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It was one of my favorite stories as a child. Young Samuel has just gone to bed when he hears a voice call his name. He runs to Eli, who has also turned in for the night. Eli assures Samuel he didn’t call for him and sends the lad back to bed. (See 1 Samuel 3)

The second time Eli might have been a bit peeved, but responds kindly—this was a new situation for the boy. Mumbling under his breath something about not being a nurse maid, he instructs Samuel to get back in bed.

When Samuel appears the third time, I imagine Eli’s immediate response was about to be less than kind—when it suddenly dawns on him Who is calling the young child’s name…God!

Words get sucked back, and Eli wakes up enough to tell Samuel exactly what he should do if the voice calls his name again, say this, “Speak, Lord. I’m ready to listen.”

Are you ready? Being ready isn’t always convenient, or easy, or even welcome. But I believe it’s important to listen…and obey.

I believe the voice of God can come as silently as a nudge, a gut check, or a hug around your heart.

I also believe the voice of God can sound like the voice of a friend, a spouse, or maybe even a pastoral leader.

Sometimes I’m listening hard, sometimes I’m asleep, sometimes I’m not even paying attention.

At times I try to pretend I’m too busy to be bothered. While other times I’m afraid so I fill my ears with other noise—like a child covering her ears and singing loudly: Lalalalalalala.

But I need to listen, especially if I identify myself as a servant.

And I need listen, to hear and obey.

”Go ahead Master. I’m listening. What do you have for me today?”

I’m ready.

Sermon Seeds: Adulterous Generation

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At one point in Jesus’ ministry, the Pharisees and Sadducess (recognized religious leaders of the day), demanded that he give them a sign to prove his authority.

“A wicked and adulterous generation demands a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Then He left them and went away (Matthew 16:4, Berean Study Bible).”

Adulterous.

Aldultery we think we understand. But what about adulterous?

Understanding this word better will help us understand why this commandment is so important to God, and why Jesus spoke about it on more than one occasion.

I went to the Thessaurus to find words that might help us. Consider these: illicit, fast and loose, immoral, cheating, two-timing, moon-lighting.

What about antonyms or the opposite: chaste and pure. To those I would add loyal and committed.

Isn’t it interesting that when God begins this section of rules and commands, he starts by demanding a pure and chaste relationship with himself?

Our relationship with him becomes the standard for our relationships with our mates and with others.

But we’re not naturally wired that way. One of my favorite hymns puts it this way: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above (Come Thou Fount).”

We are prone to wander. We have wandering eyes and wavering commitment. We are tempted to move to whatever seems better than what we have—whether it’s a car, house, a job, or a mate.

We flirt with the new until our heart forgets the promises we made. Our reckless and riotous living is similar to the prodigal son described in Luke’s gospel. We don’t appreciate what we have, so we take what’s not ours…and the chasing and wandering lands us starving in a pig sty of our own making.

The solution? Return to the God who knows us best and loves us most. The God who specializes in restoring because he never stops loving.

And if you haven’t wandered yet? Keep your heart pure!

Just in case you think purity is impossible, God has a word—a promise—for you (and me!):

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Hopefully Devoted: Touch

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This week I read a quote on one of my current favorite blogs, Live and Learn, by David Kanigan:

The skin hungers for touch, from cradle to grave. “Close silence—that’s all they need,” she whispered to me. (Kelly Corrigan, Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I Am Learning to Say, January 9, 2018)

Thinking about this hunger for touch reminded me of the story Mark tells of Jesus healing the man with leprosy.

The Greek word is splagcnizomai. Bible Study Tool (online site) gives the definition: to be moved as to one’s bowels, hence to be moved with compassion, have compassion (for the bowels were thought to be the seat of love and pity).

Knowing this, it troubled me when the NIV translates the word as “indignant” and the footnote in the NLT states that some translations use, “moved by anger.” Righteous anger might be indicate if one considers the ostracization of this man because of his condition.

Standard protocol would dictate that Jesus would give the verbal healing before he touched the man—but that’s just not how Jesus worked.

Could there possibly be anything this man needed more than physical healing?

How about human compassion and contact…touch.

Oh, the difference that’s made by the touch of the master’s hand.

Wednesday’s Word: Rejoice!

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James instructs us to “count it all joy!” (James 1:3)

Jesus told his followers: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world (John 16:33, NLT).”

The world may feel like it’s falling apart, but maybe it’s really just falling into place.

Message Meme: Purity

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This week we will consider the seventh commandment: Don’t commit adultery.

According to Matthew Henry’s Commentary (1839): The seventh commandment concerns chastity. We should be as much afraid of that which defiles the body, as of that which destroys it. Whatever tends to pollute the imagination, or to raise the passions, falls under this law, as impure pictures, books, conversation, or any other like matters.

Is it naive to believe that moral purity is possible?

God promises that the answer is a resounding, “NO!”

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires (2 Peter 1:3-4, NIV).

Every thing we need to escape the corruption in the world.