All the same, all different

RE Verse reading–Matthew 25:31-46 (day two)  “All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another”  (vs 32)  The future will reveal two facts.  We are all the same but different in one eternally significant respect.  Jesus saw the day when all nations would be gathered before him.  Every person.  Made in His image.  Accountable. EVERY knee shall bow.  NO diversity here.  Having shattered all superficial distinctions (nationality, race, gender, wealth), the Lord will then separate us using His own evaluative standard.  A dividing line will be drawn–those who served and welcomed Christ, and those who rejected and refused Him.  Upon this distinction, the destiny of the soul will rest.  A common secular idea is that all people are equal.  In some sense we Christians agree.  We never surrender, however, that at every moment of history,  two separate groups have been living their lives.  Different responses to God make different people with eternally different outcomes.

These brothers of mine

RE Verse reading–Matthew 25:31-46 (day one)  “To the extent you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to me”( vs 40)  Historically, there have been two main ways to interpret Matt 25.  One view takes “these brothers of Mine” to mean the poor generally.  Christ’s criterion for judgement is charity.  (Neither of these two interpretations teaches salvation by works. “We are saved by faith, and judged by works” is the old Puritan proverb)  In the second construct, “these brothers”  refers to the Church, the people of God spread out over the world and time doing His will and work.  We are (history will testify) often hungry, in prison and in need by virtue of our obedience to Savior’s mission.  In this scenario, the nations of the world (and the people) are judged by their support of and welcome to the Church.  Which did Christ mean?  More this week as we think together. . .

Receiving more

RE Verse reading–Mark 10:17-31 (day seven) “No one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age–houses, brothers and sisters and mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions–and in the age to come eternal life”  (vs 29-30)  It is a mystery.  Loss for God is gain.  “I have suffered the loss of all things. . .that I may gain Christ”  (Paul–Philippians 3:8)  No one makes any sacrifice in keeping with the will and request of God that is not multiplied and returned.  Jesus saw this principle in operation.  Perhaps He had in mind Peter’s new family–the worldwide church.  New fields and brothers and problems were now available for his use, if not his ownership.  By following Christ, he had become a rich man in a wide world.  He had received more.  We all do.

Courage x 3

RE Verse reading–Mark 10:17-31 “When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving” (vs 22)  “He didn’t run” may be the highest compliment.  One of my tasks as a leader, and human, is to see problems, seek the Lord and then be willing to pay the price of a solution.  Courage x 3.  Hard to do.  Even Jesus said so.  (see vs 23)  To see the situation, to call it by it’s right name requires courage.  To seek the Lord, to wait for wisdom does as well.   To follow the Spirit, to “not turning left or right” is the hardest step of all.  Given these realities, I am especially challenged by this story.  The RYR had courage to admit the problem.  He knew his heart was restless and empty of assurance.  He was intrepid enough to ask for help from Christ.  What he lacked, however, was the courage to act. God forbid that we should fall short in the same way.

What must I do?

RE Verse reading–Mark 10:17-31 (day five)  “Good Teacher, what must I DO to inherit eternal life?”  (vs 17)  It is fairly common to hear the RYR criticized for his question.  To some it indicates his spiritual confusion.  Didn’t he know that we are not saved by works of righteousness but by faith?  (see Ephesians 2:9)  The Lord does not feel the need to challenge or correct him on this point.  Neither does Paul in Acts 16 when the jailer poses a similar question, “what must I DO to be saved?”  We must be careful to let the scripture speak its own story.  We are NOT saved by works.  Clearly. There is no merit to our salvation. We are, however, told to ACT in faith.  Go!  Sell!  Give!  Come!  Follow!  These are all expressions of faith and doors into eternal life.  Simple faith, saving faith does what is commanded by the Lord.  Obedience, in this moment, is equivalent to faith and leads to life.

While we were yet sinners

RE Verse reading–Mark 10:17-31 (day four)  “Jesus looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing’ ” (vs 21)  Really good news.  When we are selfish and blind to the fact that we are selfish, the Lord is generous.  When we do not love as we should, the Lord still loves us.  The RYR has just demonstrated that he was clueless. The discussion of the 10 Commandments had not pierced his conscience.  So far as he is concerned, he has made no mistakes, done everything right.  Rather than reject this proud donkey, the Lord loved him.  Rather than challenge his pride, the Savior invited him to become a disciple and learn the eternal life he hungered for.  “But God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us”  (Romans 5: 8)  This is the good news.  When we are unworthy, Christ sees value. Even when we do not love, He loves and calls us.

Pressing us forward

RE Verse reading–Mark 10:17-31 (day three)  “Why do you call me good?  No one is good by God alone”  (vs 18)  The Lord is not brushing aside a compliment.  He is not quibbling over choice of words.  He is pursuing this man, pressing him forward to a deeper understanding of God and himself. He is forcing this man to think!  Interesting!  God is not satisfied with some of my heart or part of my mind.  Like a jealous lover ( read jealous LOVER) God knows that all  of Him in all of me is the way of LIFE.  If He is pressing us forward (right now, all of us)  shouldn’t we join Him?  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6) “Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”  (Philippians 3:13-14)  Forward.  It is the direction of His love!


RE Verse reading–Mark 10:17-31 (day two)  “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me”  (vs 21)  It will be SOMETHING for everyone.  One thing that I hope I can hold onto and still have Christ.  One concession that I hope the Lord will make to my humanity.  He won’t!  The Rich Young Ruler illustrates a principle that operates in every life.  Christ will ask us to surrender the one thing we hold onto, the one thing that we value above Him, the one thing that competes for first place in our affections.  Until surrender is made no further progress is possible.  For the man in Mark 10 it was money.  For us it may be something else.  None of us, however, can follow Christ unless/until we “deny self” (Luke 9:23)  We can have life as we want it or life as He wills it.  Not both.

A life like His

RE Verse reading–Mark 10:17-31 (day one) “Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me” (vs 21)  The rich young ruler (our name for this man) did not understand.  Perhaps we would have been similarly confused.  To sell and give were only preparatory steps.  The real command (and the real offer of grace) was to come, follow!  What an honor!  This man was being invited to become a disciple, a friend of Christ. God’s call always involves sacrifice.  Jesus had given up the privileges of Heaven to come to earth. (Philippians 2) He asked nothing from this man that He had not already been willing to give.  By prioritizing things and protecting his possessions this man lost the opportunity to walk with Christ and to become like Him. So with us.  The true and lasing treasure is a friendship with Christ and a life like His.

Sufficient warning

RE Verse reading–Luke 12:13-21, 16:19-31, James 5:1-6 (day seven)  As we near the end of our summer series on generosity, our task is to learn the lessons the Lord has for us in these terrible, poignant stories.  No one in this present generation can listen to Christ (His words re. money and its use) without some concern that we, ourselves, have fallen into the very trap He warned us away from.  The rich man (Luke 16) is not in hell because he starved Lazarus to death. However, his insensitivity to the needs of those around him, his selfish and habitual indulgence, and his laziness toward the scripture and its instruction should have been sufficient warning that his heart was not right toward God.  He had many compelling indicators.  Ignoring what the Spirit was telling him, this man stood, eventually, without excuse before the God who gave him life.  May the Lord help us all to escape the same fate.  We have been warned.