Live for what is right, in a world where everything is wrong

We are all so badly broken. The natural state of each person is brokenness. Our lost world denies it. We want to believe that our brokenness is wholeness. But the truth is I’m not OK, and you’re not OK. We are a mess, and we live in a world that has been messed up almost from the beginning. We just can’t bring ourselves to give our Creator the respect he is due, choosing his ways over our own selfish desires. The Bible tells our story every time it talks about a blind beggar or a woman with a persistent hemorrhage, a lame man who can’t get into the healing water by himself or a woman caught in the act of adultery. All of us are broken.

The good news is that we don’t have to live broken! All the sin that has made us — and keeps us — broken has been carried away by Jesus. 1 Peter 2:24 says “He personally carried away our sins in his own body on the cross so we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. You have been healed by his wounds!” (NLT’96)

How sad a crippled soul thinks his brokenness is normal, unaware that healing possible. How much more sad that someone who has been healed would choose to keep limping. How can the crippled soul realize there is an uncrippled way to live, if we who have met the Healer don’t live out the healing he has given us?

Jesus gave you the opportunity to walk free so a world filled with crippled souls could see God didn’t create us to be cripples. We have the amazing privilege of shaking off our brokenness and living for what is right, in a world where everything is wrong.

 

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Two buckets: ‘Sacrifices’ and ‘Compassion’

When he heard this, Jesus replied, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor — sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to be merciful; I don’t want your sacrifices.’ For I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough.” (Matthew 9:12-13 NLT’96)

Empty religion is what people think they must do to earn God’s favor. Broken people think they can do that by making sacrifices of some sort. But broken people can’t earn God’s favor. That’s why God sent Jesus: to make us new creatures who don’t need to earn God’s favor.

True religion is what people do because God has given them new life. Because we recognize our own brokenness — because we know God’s favor is a gift, not something we earn — our hearts are filled with compassion for other broken souls. We love God with all our hearts, and we love our neighbor as ourselves.

Too many of us try to honor God by dropping our stuff in the bucket labeled “Sacrifices.” How much of your day do you pour into the bucket labeled “Compassion”?

More here.

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God can’t lose the battle you’re in

Romans 8 is kicking my tail this morning:

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? … And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (vv. 35,38-39 NLT’96)

A God who loved you enough to let his Son die for you (v.34) is not going to give up on loving you. He has invested too much to quit. A God who is big enough to cause everything to work together for good is not going to get frustrated and walk away from you. If God is for you, what can anyone threaten you with? (v.31) What horror is so great that it could overwhelm God’s power to give you ultimate victory? (v.37)

The only thing standing between me and God’s ultimate victory in my life is my own foolishness, my stubbornness, my decision to not trust him enough to do things his way instead of my own. What monster are you facing? You’ve got God Almighty on your side, and he is all in with you for the battle. The only way you will be less than a conqueror is if you decide to not fight the good fight of faith.

Once you understand what God’s victory looks like (think Jesus on the cross and rising again), you will realize the truth: God can’t lose the battle you’re in.

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Keep following Jesus, and God will always be right there

[Jesus told the Jewish leaders], “The one who sent me is with me.  He has not deserted me, for I always do those things that are pleasing to him.”  Then many who heard him say these things believed in him.  Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings.”  (John 8:29-31)

The Father is pleased — and he will not desert you — when you walk with him in his ways.  Jesus always walked in God’s ways; commit yourself to following him and you will too!  Keep obeying Jesus’ teachings and rejoice in God’s promise: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

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Today’s protocol

Today’s protocol:  Testing now.  Patience now.  Endurance now.  Loving God now.  Crown of life afterward.

“Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.  For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything. … God blesses the people who patiently endure testing. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”  (James 1:2-4,12 NLT’96)

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Amos: No word candy for earnest worshipers

Amos 5 offers no word candy to the earnest people who sing worship songs and make the required sacrifices, because good people are being oppressed and the poor deprived of justice.  The day of the LORD, so eagerly awaited, will only bring darkness and disaster.  The entire nation will be devoured when the LORD roars through Israel like a fire.  Those left will waste away in exile.

Yet there is hope.  The LORD God Almighty may yet have mercy on his people, if they love what is good and run from evil.  Establish God’s true justice in the land — a river of righteous living that will never run dry.  Perhaps the LORD who turns darkness into morning will have mercy and allow you to live.

Earnest religion is not the same thing as true religion. http://wp.me/p4C1xl-v

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Why do we keep silent?

Dragged before the rulers for healing a crippled beggar and preaching a politically incorrect doctrine, Peter and John were commanded to no longer speak in the name of Jesus.  They replied, “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20)

Yet many church members will not talk about Jesus under any circumstances. Perhaps it is because they have not witnessed life-transforming acts of kindness that bring healing to crippled beggars in the name of Jesus. Perhaps they themselves are still crippled.

If a cripple is healed in the name of Jesus, won’t he tell everyone he knows? Why don’t more of us testify?

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