Setting Things Right

 

kingdomcitizens.org

 

Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

Matthew 9:35

Jesus confused people.  I think it’s safe to say that.  Everywhere He walked, He left behind Him people scratching their heads and wondering about this man that was the carpenter’s son.

He came preaching a message that was quite different from what people anticipated, even people who were well versed in the writings of the Old Testament prophets.  He healed the sick even on Sabbath and He delivered  people from the torment of Satan which served to demonstrate his message.  His primary message was the kingdom of God being here and now  and the things that he did were evidences of what the kingdom of God looked like.

He didn’t come to overthrow the Roman Empire or abolish taxes.   He came to right what had been wronged in the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had been given a kingdom to exercise authority upon and they chose instead to believe the lies of the serpent and rebel against the god who created them. Before we throw stones at them, we should ask ourselves if we have believed the lies of the devil. Have I believed that God is holding out on me, that His best is not enough for me, that I would rather do things my way then His?Have I believed that I am worthless, that I can never do anything good enough,  that I am not worthy of love? Have I accepted the doctor’s diagnosis to the point of believing this condition is not curable, that I will never be well?

If so, then I hope we can look at what Jesus said and demonstrated about the kingdom he was setting aright.  He healed the sick, he delivered people from satanic attacks and he preached a message of repentance and forgiveness.  Why? Because simply overthrowing the Roman Empire might temporarily set captives free, but only Jesus could permanently set captives free.

Why would setting captives free matter so much to Jesus?  Because it matters so much to our Father in heaven.  Jesus came to do the will of His Father.  Jesus came in love and because of love and all that He did demonstrated that love to a hurting and broken world.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10

 

Father, thank You for sending Jesus to show us Your heart.  What love You have demonstrated in making a way for us to be set free.  When the thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, remind us of Your love for us.  Whisper Your truth in our hearts so that we may be set free to love You in return.  Let Your kingdom come, let Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Amen. 

 

Pic credit:  kingdomcitizens.org

 

 

 

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Anger Issues

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God said, “What do you have to be angry about?”

Jonah 4:4

Jonah could have made a list of the things he was angry about.  He was a prophet and being asked to do the unthinkable – take God’s grace to the Israelites worst enemy. He was angry that the Ninevites might repent and God would spare them the judgment they had coming. They were ugly, vicious enemies of the Israelites. They were cruel and apparently boasted of their cruelty on their monuments, some of these monuments exists today in museums and here is a partial list of things they boasted about:

“I cut off their heads and formed them into pillars”

“I flayed all the chief men who had revolted, and I covered the pillar with their skins”

“Many within the border of my own land I flayed, and spread their skins upon the walls”

“I cut off the limbs of the officers, the royal officers who had rebelled”

“3,000 captives I burned with fire”

“Their corpses I formed into pillars”

“From son I cut off their hands and their fingers, and from other I cut off their noses, their ears, and their fingers, of many I put out their eyes”

“I made one pillar of the living, and another of heads, I bound their heads to posts round about the city” *

Many of these atrocities would have been done against the people Jonah lived among.  Oh yes, Jonah had reasons to be angry. But when told to go to Ninevah and warn them to repent or God would destroy them, Jonah said no. The last thing Jonah wanted was for God to forgive these enemies and relent on His plans to destroy them.

I have been there. I can relate to Jonah; been so angry with someone for so long that his salvation no longer mattered to me. Maybe even in my darkest moments of anger I might have wished God’s judgment on him. Oh, in my defense, I didn’t get there overnight; no it took years, as it no doubt did with Jonah.  I can make a list of wrongs done to me that would make anyone angry. I could justify my anger, but that didn’t make it right, at least not in God’s eyes.  Like Jonah, I don’t believe I saw the depth of my anger until God exposed to me my unwillingness to pass on to this person the love, forgiveness, mercy and  compassion that God had so freely given me.  Unlike Jonah, I did repent and while I would like to say it changed the person I was so angry with, it didn’t. It changed me.

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I continually have the choice – wallow in my anger, keep the list of wrongs done to me forever in my remembrance, withhold grace to someone in need, or I can purpose to let the anger go. I’m not saying it is easy, it’s not, but it is a choice – my anger or God’s righteousness. Which would you choose?

 

 

* this from James Montgomery Boice

pic credit 1: slbc2u.org

pic credit 2: amazon.com

 

 

You Don’t Love Me Anymore

My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke,

because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

Proverbs 3:11-12

 

A young boy I work with captured my heart within hours of meeting him. I have worked with kids for more years than I can count and can’t remember a more stand-out kid. He is charismatic, compassionate, intuitive, funny, and dearly loved by all the kids around him. I can’t imagine anyone not falling in love with him. In this “love” I thought I felt for him, I allowed him to slide on some expectations that I held to other kids. His father, a man I greatly respect, called me aside one day and pointed out the error of my leniency with his son. I didn’t get it at first, but when I did, I realized that not disciplining this boy wasn’t love, whatever it may have been, it wasn’t love. Love requires that I discipline him and not allow him to continue on a path that could ultimately cause him harm.

I began disciplining him the way I would any other child and he noticed immediately the difference and he didn’t like it. At one point, after several days of the new rules of engagement, he looked at me sincerely and said, “You don’t love me anymore”.  That broke my heart but it gave me the chance to explain to him that it was because I love him that I will discipline him. He didn’t get it at first either. Love sometimes demands that I take a harder position than I would like to if it means steering a kid off of a path that can only lead to his harm.

God’s love for us requires no less. What kind of love would allow someone to derail and not make efforts to bring them back into line? What kind of love would it be if a parent looked the other way while their child continually made decisions that lead to destruction? Discipline is not the same as punishment. I have heard people comment that God must be punishing them through a sickness or disease or hardship, but I don’t see that in a loving Father. The Lord’s discipline is an act of love.
“The Lord’s discipline is an often-ignored fact of life for believers. We often complain about our circumstances without realizing that they are the consequences of our own sin and are a part of the Lord’s loving and gracious discipline for that sin. This self-centered ignorance can contribute to the formation of habitual sin in a believer’s life, incurring even greater discipline.

Discipline is not to be confused with cold-hearted punishment.

The Lord’s discipline is a response of His love for us and His desire for each of us to be holy.

God will use testing, trials, and various predicaments to bring us back to Himself in repentance.

The result of His discipline is a stronger faith and a renewed relationship with God

not to mention destroying the hold that particular sin had over us. *

While discipline may make us feel that God doesn’t love us anymore, the truth is it is out of His great love for us that He disciplines us. That may be something we only see clearly in hindsight.

I am grateful Father, for the times You have disciplined me, for the times I would have derailed had You not brought me back. Thank You for loving me enough to take the time to discipline me and to take a harder stand with me than either one of us may like at the moment. Show me areas in my life where I am out of line with Your word and Your will and bring me back, I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

* gotquestions.org

picture credit: familyfrugalfun.com