How good news can come out of Dallas…

I stayed up far too late last night watching the reports roll in from my home city of Dallas, Texas; my heart heavy, my eyes damp. Protesters – peaceful protesters – gave eyewitness accounts of the mayhem. News anchors gave cautious updates: Officers injured. Officers in critical condition. One officer dead. Three officers dead. Four officers dead. And, this morning, five officers dead.

Dallasites, black and white, are calling out for unity. Churches are gathering together in prayer. One social media photo pictured a multi-racial prayer meeting in Bryan/College Station, TX. The tears pooled again because this is the color of the Church.prayer for Dallas

 

While we are sadly still stuck in “white churches” and “black churches,” there is no white Church, black Church or rainbow Church. There is Jesus’ Church. His Bride, washed in red, “not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing.” (Ephesians 5:27)

The cry is to pray for peace. And we should. We have to.

But I have bad news.

It is only going to get worse.

The prophet Jeremiah said:

“We looked for peace, but there was no good;
And for the time of healing, and there was trouble.” Jeremiah 14:19

And God reprimanded false prophets who put bandaids on gaping wounds saying,

“For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’
When there is no peace.” Jeremiah 8:11, 6:14

We live in an evil, fallen world and regardless of color, creed, or nationality, as the saying goes, “Haters gonna hate.”

You see, while the wounds are far from superficial, the battle goes far deeper. And it is uglier than the ugliest of headlines, nastier than the most hateful venom spewed on social media. The battle is not fought with guns, bombs, or policies because we fight an enemy that is looking for every opportunity to poke a finger into a hornet’s nest.

Know your enemy...
Know your enemy…

Satan will not give up. It will not get better before it gets much worse.

But I have good news.

It will get better. Jesus is coming back. He will reign forever in righteousness.

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

I have more good news.

This offer is available for all who want it. (I love this part!)

“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come! And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17

But we don’t have to just sit around wailing, carrying our doomsday signs while we wait for Jesus to come. This isn’t an excuse to crawl into a cave in sackcloth bemoaning the dire straits. In fact, that isn’t allowed. Because a battle means war. It means fighting back.

That’s more good news.

All this horror, all this hatred, allows the Church to be the Church.

It allows us to gather as happened today in Dallas, not in riots, but hand in hand in prayer. It allows for pastors, speakers, writers, and teachers to listen to the Holy Spirit and issue a call to action across our country. Each of us, every follower of Jesus, can choose to be a true disciple of Him. We can pray for the change He brings on the inside to reflect itself in change on the outside. It will look different in different communities, different churches, different individuals. But the goal will be the same.prayer+vigil

 

This is how Jesus put it.

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-color in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (The Message)

So love.

In ways that only God can enable us to love.

Be salt.

Add flavor to a world that only knows bitterness. Make those around thirsty for Jesus.

Be light.

Shine out in a dark and angry world.

Wherever you are. Be a city on a hill.

Think before you tweet.

Filter your Facebook comments through Truth. Not just fact.

Ask yourself, does this comment just prove my point

or does it make His Point?

And when you are asked to pray for Dallas or to pray for our nation or to pray for whatever city has been hit with senseless tragedy, I offer you the prayer of my sister Brittany Burnette of Shabby Chic Ministries and the College of Biblical Studies in Houston. Pray with us.

My heart is heavy, and I don’t know where to begin. So Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus and by Your Holy Spirit, may I begin and end with what is true.

God, You are sovereign, good, gracious, patient, and merciful. Thank You for the gift of Your Son, the Prince of Peace and the Great Reconciler. Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit, who indwells Your people, convicts us of sin, and molds us into the image of Your Son. Thank You for the written Word that points to the Incarnate Word. Lord, You knew that we would need that Word in order to ground us and to help us in all moments of life, particularly moments like these.

Lord, help us. You are the Author and Creator of life. For that reason, every human life has intrinsic worth, and You count that life as precious. Therefore, when we devalue life, which You have made, we give affront to You. Lord, You exist as Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each Person is distinct and fully God, yet there is only one God. That unity and diversity and diversity in unity is spectacular. So we should not be surprised that You would reflect that unity and diversity in Your image bearers. In Your love and grace, You chose to make people in Your image, who bear Your likeness. You create men and women; they are beautifully distinct, and they are fully equal. Likewise, You create people of different races, backgrounds, and cultures; they are also beautifully distinct, and they are fully equal. So when we see another human being of any race or background, may You arrest our attention and remind us that the one upon whom we look is an image bearer, and therefore that person has worth. You love diversity because it exists within You, Godhead itself. So forgive us, Lord, when we hate what You love. We repent and ask for Your forgiveness. Help Your Church to be one, as You are one. And help us to proclaim the truth of who You are, both in word and in deed, to a world that desperately needs Your help.

What we feel and how we interact with others says not only something about how we view people, but it also shows what we think of You. And when we fail to love You and others well, then Your people must call it for what it is: sin. We repent of this, and we beg You for Your help. And we need Your help because You have called us to go out and make disciples from all people. We need to represent You, Lord. So help us to represent You to the families, friends, and loved ones of Mr. Sterling, Mr. Castile, and countless others within our communities of color. Help us to proclaim relentlessly and to demonstrate fearlessly that You are Lord over all creation. You see, honor, love, and treasure all people, including people of color. Therefore, as Your ambassadors, we must do the same. We must pursue love, justice, righteousness, and peace. This cannot be done well apart from You, so help us, Lord.

And Father, You grant some of us the special honor and privilege of serving and protecting others in a distinct way. We thank you for our police officers. Day after day, these men and women put on the uniform, and they enter a hostile world and work on the civilian’s behalf. They protect us; they serve us; and yes, sometimes they die for us. To those in the Dallas Police Department and in police departments across the country: we see you; we honor you; we love you; we treasure you. Forgive us, Lord, when we fail to respect those whom You have appointed to guard us. May we minister to all, including those officers involved in police-related shootings because we are the Church, and we withhold the ministry of grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation from no one. Though we were hostile toward You, You sent Your Son to reconcile us to Yourself. So may all people of good will, especially the body of Jesus Christ, commit ourselves to your reconciling work.

Lord, we pray for Your shalom: yes, we ask for the peace, wholeness, wellness, completeness, and satisfaction that only You can bring. Mend what is fractured; repair what is broken. Reconcile us to one another as Your Son perfectly reconciles us to You. Father, bring us shalom and be our shalom; that can only come in one way, through the God-man, the Prince of Shalom, Jesus Christ.

Father, help us to be honest with You, ourselves, and one another about areas in which we need to love You and our neighbors more and better. Give us the wisdom and the strength of heart to engage others as Your Son consistently engages us. Use Your people to do Your work on this, Your earth, for our good and Your glory. And it is in the name of Jesus and by Your Spirit we pray. Amen.

Amen.

#lettheChurchbelight

 

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Holding hands & flipping eggs

If I could only write in the shower.

It all started before I could even write, using my finger to do “cursive” on the bathtub walls. I advanced to teaching as I grew older – doing commercials extolling the virtues of my shampoo while I played in the tub.

My best sermons come in the shower and I would be quite prolific if I penned everything that comes to mind in there.

You see, if someone would invent a way to write in the shower, it wouldn’t have been an embarrassing amount of months since I’ve written anything. (There is an exciting forthcoming Bible study I’m a part of but more on that later!)

So tonight, I’m sitting down with wet hair to share.

Sometimes life comes to a screeching halt, does a U-turn and the road takes you to places you’ve never been before. That happened last September. My healthy, active 87-year-old mother went to the hospital because of pain. She left a couple of days later on hospice with a diagnosis of ovarian cancer.

My mom.

Cancer.

Hospice.

My mother raised five kids as a poor preacher’s wife, helped my dad start a mission board, met up with and married her high school sweetheart at age 81 after my father’s death. She’s tiny, active, and will tell anyone sitting on a park bench about Jesus. (Chances are they will walk away with a certainty of heaven and knowing Him as Savior.)

After a 45-minute telephone conversation with the doctor, it was apparent that we needed to move from Dallas, Texas to Verona, Virginia, population 4200. It says something about my husband that he didn’t bat an eye at putting everything in storage and moving into my mother’s basement apartment.

So here we are. It’s seven months later and she has obviously beaten the doctor’s diagnosis of “a couple of months if all goes well.”

People seem to think I’m doing something special, staying here with my mother and her husband. It is special.

For me.

I get to hear the stories that I never heard as the youngest child. I get to spend time with family that there wasn’t time for before.family Collage

There won’t be any “if onlys” or “I should have saids.” We know she won’t be here much longer and we enjoy every minute. We hug every night. We enjoy every game of dominoes. We say thank you over and over. I watch her read, talk on the phone, laugh, hold hands with her husband and I treasure it. I absorb her strength, watch her courteousness, and hope to copy her graciousness. She is the true embodiment of Proverbs 18:24 “A man who has friends must himself be friendly.” Cards, phone calls and visits from all over the world – greetings, love and prayer from lives she has touched.

I was making her bed one day (Poor Mom, I did not inherit her tidiness) and it hit me. There is amazing peace in all of this – meals, beds, meds, laundry, etc. Because while I may not understand the why, I know the Who.

Two things are emphasized to me over and over.

When we serve, we do not do it on our own.

I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need.

I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.] (Philippians 4:12-13 AMP)

I love the emphasis in the Amplified version.

I know how to get along and live humbly and how to enjoy abundance. I can do all things He has called me to do. I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.

Read that over again every morning before you throw a load of dirty kids’ clothes in the washer or do a task at work waayy below your pay grade.

All things He has called me to do.

Think that through when you are so ticked off at your spouse that you could scream.

Self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.

Say that out loud when given a Herculean task like leading a small group, decorating for a retreat, or sharing Jesus over coffee.

If He called you to do it, He will make you capable.

And think about this:

When we serve, we serve Jesus.

Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ (Matthew 25:37-40)

One morning I counted – breakfast was six very different smoothies; two eggs over hard, yokes broken, two sausage patties, no toast; one egg over-medium, two sausage patties, toast; two eggs over easy, toast; one egg over very light with very crunchy toast.

Would you believe that was fun? It was. And I didn’t burn a thing! To you large family mamas that’s nothing but I only have one kid. Short-order breakfasts aren’t something in my repertoire.

I’m not great at this. I get upset and feel kinda snarky sometimes. I don’t balance upstairs living and downstairs living very well at all. But here’s the thing: Every egg I flip, every rug I vacuum, every bed I make, every brow I wipe – I do it in the name of Jesus.

What a privilege.

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Grace for the Graceless

To speak the truth in love has been the clarion call to followers of Christ of late. Paul tells us that rather than chasing after every new teaching, we are to let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Ephesians 5:15 (AMP)

Learning to deal with situations some have not faced before, Christians are grappling with what it looks like to be Jesus to the world around them.

How do we let our lives lovingly express truth?

In this current age of more strongly emphasized grace, we as a Church are struggling harder to

accept the unacceptable,

love the unlovable,

offer grace not condemnation,

give more than we receive

and to Tweet be light in a world that pictures God as a Judge with a gavel more than a Savior with a call.

People are moving out of comfortable middle-class neighborhoods to reach others less fortunate. Families are adopting children who would otherwise not find a home. The culture of grace is demanding that we take a look at our own sin before we stick up our noses at the sins of others.

We remind ourselves to pass along God’s grace, knowing that

Rahab the harlot is in the line of Christ,

David the adulterer was a man after God’s own heart,

Mary Magdalene was one of the closest friends of Jesus,

Jesus called a tax-collector to be His follower,

Our Savior touched the untouchable

and He dined with those rejected by the religious rulers of the day.

God is a wonderful, magnificent, loving God of inexplicable grace, calling the worst of sinners to repentance, washing all who receive Him in the blood of Jesus, pure and holy in His eyes.

All.

God so loved the world.

His grace is amazing.

However…

As we learn to offer the grace we have been given to those we have previously ignored, we often wind up

judging the legalistic,nograce

showing bigotry to the racists,

being intolerant of the intolerant,

loving all but those who refuse to love

and offering grace to all but those who do not offer grace.

In the midst of our praise and acceptance of grace, we must remind ourselves that

one of the greatest verses of salvation was taught to a pharisee named Nicodemus.

Most of the New Testament was written by a bigoted legalist.

Jesus taught His best parables to the rule-following, judgmental pharisees and Sadducees.

And He felt great compassion for the rich young ruler who would not give.

God so loved the world.yesgrace

He loved them anyway.

His grace is offered to everyone.

Not just the tax collectors but those who look down their noses at those who don’t pay.

He showed compassion not only to the unclean woman but to the rich young ruler.

He died for the thief on the cross beside Him and for the pharisees who had Him hung there.

What does unlovable look like for you?

Is it the poor urban child who desperately needs a home. Or is it the wealthy person in the better part of town who desperately needs to know the need of a Savior?

As we follow the call to love the gay couple next door, we must also follow the call to love the people down the street who shuts the door in their faces.

When we try to become a Good Samaritan, learning to sacrifice and show love to the man in the ditch in need of help, do we love or hate the one who crossed the road to the other side?

What is it that makes us turn up our noses in arrogance? Am I in danger of being proud of my humility?

Love unfeigned

Tweet Self-righteous or confessed sinner – all are in need of a Savior.

Can I freely offer the grace for which He so dearly paid?

Tweet The more I reflect on how much He pulled me out of, the less I am able to point a finger at people where they are.

Street corner or amen corner.

Love without hypocrisy. Even the hypocrites.

“Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” (Romans 5:20)

For everyone.

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Somebody needs to do something…

Somebody needs to do something about that.

You’ve heard it. You’ve said it.Someoneshould.jpg
Here’s what I read this morning:

“Rise up, you women who are at ease,

Hear my voice;

You complacent daughters,

Give ear to my speech.” (Isaiah 32:9)

And here’s what I read yesterday on Ann Voskamp’s blog “A Holy Experience”:

“You can walk into any mall and buy a pair of NIKE running shoes for what they are buying a Christian or Yezidi girl from 1-9 years of age — $172 dollars. And she’s yours. For whatever you want, for as long as you want, to make do whatever you want. Sit with that. Yeah, we’re all done living in a world where a pair of shoes can last longer, have more worth, be treated with more value, than a fondled, raped and discarded 9 year-old-girl.

The United Nations reports this week that at least one young girl’s been “married” over 20 timesand forced at the end of each violation to undergo surgery to “restore” her virginity.

So it could be ripped open and destroyed by the next highest bidder.”

I read that, moved to tears, pushed into righteous anger.

Someone really should do something.

“LookWe’re all done with keeping up with the Kardashians or whatever flash of skin is being flaunted on red carpets — when there are little girls being devoured on bare concrete floors and we will keep company with Jesus and be the ones who do something about the things that breaks His heart.”

I read aloud to my husband about the women Ann interviewed in Iraq, women who were forced to leave their homes, cars, neighborhoods and normal lives, to flee from ISIS. Forced to choose which children to take with them.

Which children to leave behind.

The inside pain crept into my throat and my voice cracked. And it hurt to know that something needed to be done. Nine-year-old little girls were being sold and raped and we had to sit there helpless.iraqigirl

I continued to read and my husband listened, his throat thick too.

And we realized that finally, someone was not just stirring up emotions to make us feel guilty or helpless.

By the end of Ann’s eloquent, heartfelt and well-informed entry, we were presented with a problem, a reason we should care and something to do about it.

Today, Jennie Allen of IF Gathering met with Ann Voskamp and Jeremy Courtney, founder of Preemptive Love via livestream.

You can watch their conversation:

Behind the Issue

Let’s take a look at the verse again in the NIV:

“You women who are so complacent,
    rise up and listen to me;
You daughters who feel secure,
    hear what I have to say!”

This week, women of God rose up, said with Jennie and Ann:

“Not on our watch!”

Given a way to defy Isis, to show the love of Jesus to Iraqi women and children, people quit waiting for the military, the American government or anyone else to do something.

This week people have dug in and rattled change. Change. Half a million dollars of change.

When just $100 will send 10 kids back to school this fall, that’s a lot of change.

Jeremy Courtney and his wife decided that “there are worse things than dying. Staying alive for no real impact, no real passion.” They rose up out of the complacency of North America and moved to Iraq to do something.

And they provide a way God’s sons and daughters to do something.

Here’s how verses 11-14 read in the Message version:

“Cry tears, real tears, for the happy homes no longer happy,
    the merry city no longer merry.
The royal palace is deserted,
    the bustling city quiet as a morgue,
The emptied parks and playgrounds
    taken over by wild animals,
    delighted with their new home.”

Read the article. Here’s that link again: “Into Iraq #2: What the News Isn’t Telling You & Why We Can’t Afford to Pretend It Isn’t Happening…” Check out her original piece as well, “Into Iraq #1: Love in the Time of ISIS.” Watch the video. Get out your wallets. (There is a nice link to follow at the bottom of the article.)

Rise up. Get out of your complacency. Cry real tears for the homes that are no longer happy.

Then do something with the tears God gave you.

Here is an extra challenge from me: Picture a little nine-year-old girl. Child-Marriage-Little-Girls-665x385

Do you see her. Sandy-colored hair, tanned skin, eyes the color of the ocean in the sun?

Now picture her in the hands of evil.

Pray for that little girl tonight. You don’t know her name but God does. Commit to pray for her tonight, tomorrow night, when you’re in carpool, when you pass a playground, whenever you think of her. That same little girl. Lift her up please to the only Father who can help her. prayer-on-my-knees42

I’m praying for mine. I’m begging God to make her a miracle. One little nine-year-old girl. Pull her out God. Bring her home. Save her. It’s just one little girl I’m asking about Lord.

Just one little girl. Please Lord, save this one.

IraqiGirl2Will you do it? Will you join me? Will you pray? Each one of us, every day, begging God to save our own particular little girl.

Somebody should do something.

Now some Body can.

 

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No excuse…

He is called the Boston Marathon Bomber.

BomberNo one, including his defense attorney Judy Clarke, is bothering with the word “allegedly.”

In her opening statement, Clarke told the jury her client did it.

“It was him.”

There is no doubt as to his involvement in the 2013 bombing that killed three people and injured 264 others.

Clarke’s argument is that his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev influenced the then 19-year-old to commit this act of terror that literally ripped limbs from its victims.

This is known in court as mitigating circumstances. Seventeen of the 30 criminal charges faced by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev carry the death penalty. The mitigating circumstances are not presented to prove the defendant’s innocence but to, in this case, prevent him from receiving the death penalty.

We have a bad habit of mistaking God for a judge with whom we can present mitigating circumstances.

God’s mercy is not dependent on mitigating circumstances.

God offers us mercy because of His great love. (Ephesians 2:4-7)

And yet we trudge along, willfully doing our own thing, making excuses and then telling God we’re sorry but…

“It’s just the way I am.”

“I couldn’t help it.”

“It wasn’t all my fault.”

“I didn’t know any better.”

  • The fact that your husband is a jerk does not make the thing with guy at the office okay.
  • The fact that your wife left you and you are lonely does not make the whole computer thing okay.
  • The fact that you overpaid last year, that they will never know or it all comes out in the end does not make fudging the income taxes okay.

You know better.

I think God must get really sick of us not just coming to Him and saying, “Lord, I really messed up. I am so sorry. Please forgive me.”

The thing is that we know when we willfully disobey but we don’t want to admit it’s willful.

We want to pretend we couldn’t help it.

So we present God with mitigating circumstanceNot_Guiltys hoping to receive His mercy.

Mercy He has already extended.

What an insult.

This week we celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. He left the magnitude of heaven to spend time on this harsh soil because He loves us. The beloved Son of God, crucified because the Father has mercy on us.No_Greater_Love

And we, disciples of Jesus, have the nerve to willfully choose to do our own thing and then give Him some paltry excuse in hopes that He will forgive us.

Once we have accepted His redemption, all is forgiven.

What’s with the excuses?

Yes, as fallen man, we will mess up. We are redeemed creatures living in an unredeemed world. But the excuse

“That’s just the way I am”

no longer flies.

Guess what? It isn’t true.

Paul spent the first half of his letter to the church of Ephesus emphasizing their/our beautiful identity in Christ. Chosen, adopted, forgiven, blessed…

He tells us we have been made new.

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, [Did you catch that?] even when we were Ephesians_RegimensWithGracedead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved.) Ephesians 2:4-5

Then in chapter four he reminds us to “walk worthy of the calling” and in verses 24-31 lists behavior that has no place in our lives.

This is not “oops!” behavior.

  • Lying (vs 25) is not accidental.
  • The type of anger he mentions in verse 26 is what comes when you allow something from the day to simmer until it turns into more. (See Psalm 4:4)
  • Stealing (vs. 28) is a choice.
  • Bitterness and rage are things we choose to harbor.
  • Read through the first five verses of chapter five as well. You will see that all of these behaviors involve choosing to thumb one’s nose at God.

Apparently the Ephesians were like us – prone to excuses – because Paul wrote, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.(Ephesians 5:8)

In other words, that is not just the way you are. He is telling us that we have been made new. We need to act like it. In fact, (and this may be a radical thought) all of that behavior is not normal for a child of God.

I’m going to write that again.

Ongoing willful rebellion is not normal behavior for a child of God.

It is all tied in to Ephesians 4:22-24. “That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

And that’s where he begins to tell us the old behavior to get rid of. That old man died. Some of us walk around like zombie Christians, insistent on keeping the old man walking , allowing for mitigating circumstances.

And God says

Just. Stop.

He knows. He knows we aren’t perfect. He knows it’s hard. He certainly does not want His beloved children to walk in shame for sin that has already been forgiven. But with a God that loving, why do we snub our noses at His mercy by making excuses that there were mitigating circumstances?

There’s more.

The sad thing is that we project this attitude on to the rest of the world. We are forgiven yet we continually offer paltry excuses for our willful rebellion, acting like we don’t know any better, ashamed to come before the throne of grace and lay it all out before Him.

And we offer excuses for every one else who hasn’t yet come to know His mercy.

“Well, I believe people are all basically good.”

“They can’t help it. They just don’t know any better.”

As Paul would say:

“Baloney!”

Actually, what he did say was:

The only way the world will know their need for Jesus is when they see us relying on our need for His mercy. If man is basically good, there is no need for God.

I really, really want to think that some people just don’t know better – that people don’t understand that there is a need for God. But Jesus spoke hard truth:

“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.”

(And it is the Spirit of truth He talks of in verse 26, who takes away the Believer’s excuses.)

David tells us in Psalm 19:1-6 (AMP) that “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows and proclaims His handiwork….There is no speech nor spoken word [from the stars]; their voice is not heard. Yet their voice [in evidence] goes through all the earth, their sayings to the end of the world…”

God’s very creation testifies His nature and yet man turns a blind eye to it, bastardizing the message He offers. God put every star in place, choreographing the universe into an intricate dance of solar systems, constellations and galaxies. Yet man declares it all started with an accident, turns God’s marvelous dance into a method of fortune telling and insists on worshiping the creation rather than the Creator.

So as followers of Christ, our responsibility is two-fold.

  • All is forgiven. We are free! We have to accept responsibility for our own behavior and live that way.

“Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1, HCSB)

In this, in our wrongdoing, we set aside our pride and stop making excuses.

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

No excuses. The devil didn’t make me do it. It was no one’s fault but my own.

Mercy, not mitigating circumstances.

  • Our second responsibility is to show God’s love and mercy to the world.

Not excuses. Mercy.

Not judgment. Mercy.

“For God so loved the world that He gave…”

That’s all that’s needed. No excuse necessary.

 

For more study on this part of Ephesians, click here to download notes: Ephesians Study; ch.4/5

 

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