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Showing posts from February 15, 2015

Preoccupied Hearts

We all face the challenge of staying focused in life. We want to do a good job at work, have a family that is good, and develop a group of friends that we can enjoy and will support us in the good and bad times. But are these things the core of our existence? Jesus shared a parable about four kinds of seed in Mark 4:2-20. There was that which fell along the path and was eaten by birds, that which fell in rocky places and withered because of shallow roots, that which fell among thorns and was choked out, and that which fell on good soil and produced fruit. Consider with me the seed that fell among thorns and was choked so that it did not produce grain. This group Jesus later said were people who heard the word of God (the seed) "but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires of other things" came in and choked the word, making them unfruitful. (4:19) Their hearts were preoccupied by their world and it caused no spiritual fruit in their lives. Their…

Fret Not

It seems easy to be anxious and disturbed about the progress of wicked men in our world. ISIS advances, Christians are brutalized, children are made into soldiers, and money and success seem to flow to evil people or entities. Our emotional response of fretting about terrible situations can captivate our attention and whatever is our emotional focus consumes our energies. "Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this…Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes." (Psalm 37:1-7) Written by David, Psalm 37 takes a huge leap the other way. Instead of fretting about evil and the persons that produce it, this psalm directs us to focus on the Lord, knowing that all is under His control. Fretting that makes us anxious and ang…

Gain without Righteousness

There are many that seek after treasures on earth. Ahab desired the vineyard of Naboth (1 Kings 21:4-24; 22:39) but it brought disaster on him and his descendants. Judas obtained thirty pieces of silver for betrayal of Jesus and it brought him remorse and guilt that caused him to return the silver and then commit suicide. (Matthew 27:3-5) The mob, political leaders, and captains of industry that have taken illegally all end up suffering for their greedy actions. Solomon wrote, "Ill-gotten treasures are of no value, but righteousness delivers from death." (Proverbs 10:2) Treasures of this earth are susceptible to moth and rust which destroy them and thieves that steal them said Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 6:19) Shame, sorrow, and a guilty conscience are the result of ill-gotten gain. But righteousness brings joy and deliverance from the sting of death. It allows us to rest in mind and spirit and keeps our focus on God rather than on ill-gotten gain. Righteousn…

Pray for your Enemies

What is your response to your enemies? Do you hate them and malign them as they do to you or do you see them as God sees them, people caught in their sinfulness and unable to save themselves, and so pray for their souls? In the midst of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount we find help with this question. "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:44) Praying for your enemies may not be the solution to the pain they are causing you but it is the direction of God who loves you and them. The psalmist had learned to do this. He said, "Yet, when they [enemies] were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting. When my prayers returned to me unanswered, I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother. I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother." (Psalm 35:13-14) He had fasted, mourned and wept for them. And, what is the reason for these actions? The fina…