Day of Reckoning

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 20:13-17; Leviticus 19:16-18; Zechariah 7:8-10; Matthew 5:13-16 (day four)

From the very beginning of the nation, God had given instructions to Israel on how to treat their neighbors.  They were not to covet any of their possessions, they were not to take advantage of their weaknesses, and they were not to share in their sin.  For generations, Israel did not obey God.  They had not loved their fellow countryman and had taken every advantage of their neighbors for greed and self-gain.  At the time of Zechariah, God was pronouncing judgment on His people.  His command to “Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another “…had gone unheeded.  Their hearts were like flint and they would not hear the law.  We often believe we can ‘get away with disobedience’.  We ignore God’s commands or seek to reinterpret His truth to suit our needs.  There will be a day of judgment though for certain.  Ask God to search your heart and restore your relationship with Him.

Burning coals

RE Verse reading–Luke 6:27-36; Romans 12:17-21 (day seven) “If your enemy is hungry, feed him. . .in doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”–Romans 12:20.  It sounds awful!  To heap burning coals on someone’s head?  Violent!  Painful burning of scalp and hair!  The context insists we find a different meaning.  Paul is not teaching us how to “get even” with people who have hurt us.  Just the opposite.  “DON’T REPAY evil for evil” he says in v 17.  Better to take “burning coals” as a metaphor for conscience or shame.  Your enemy hurts you. You love him.  He dismisses you.  You value him.  Eventually, it clarifies the source of the problem, destroys any justification he may have for his own hatred.  It disallows his claim, “she is part of the problem”.  No.  Your response forces him (at least gives him an opportunity) to look deeply at his own heart.  “Commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God”–2 Corinthians 4:2.

Love your enemies

Re: Verse reading–Luke 6:27-36, Romans 12:17-21 (day one)

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”–Jesus (Luke 6:27-28)  In all of history and literature no words are more fiercely contested.  Unreasonable, impractical say the critics of Christ.  “Old birth” people simply cannot do this work.  Even those who WANT to follow this command find it impossible without a new heart and supernatural support.  Why should we love our enemies?  1) loyalty to Christ demands it, 2) it is the only way to stop the “hate-hurt” cycle, 3) it leads toward conviction and conversion which is the larger, higher purpose of God.  Most of us have miles to go in learning this attitude and practice.  Jesus never changes His demand.  “Forgive us our sins as we have forgiven those who sin against us.”  Even as we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we are praying for our enemies.  It is a start toward love.

Law and love

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 20:12; Luke 2:45-52; John 19:25-27 (day seven)  

“Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land.”

It will be a long road back, but we can do it.  “He is not willing for any to perish.”  We will need to change.  Attitudes.  Ideas.  Where we once thought of His Law as an imposition, a burden, we will now see it as blessing and necessary check on self-will. Where we once resisted His will, we will yield, in our recovery, to a government that rises from His great grace.  We will teach children to respect parents, to never consider themselves “free agents” from this obligation of gratitude.  We will repent from homes with absent fathers–either physically or emotionally– and will ask only from our children that which we also are willing to live and do.

The Bible doesn’t say God is Law.  It says God is Love.  But, maybe to God, these are the same thing.

Next Gen

Re: Verse reading–Psalm 127:3-5; Proverbs 22:6; Deuteronomy 6:1-9 (day one)  
“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”–Deuteronomy 6:6-7.  “The primary responsibility for discipling a child toward faith and obedience to Christ belongs with parents.  No church can fully or adequately substitute for the influence of a parent’s instruction and encouragement.  The church works in partnership with parents.  We offer training and encouragement as we work together to lead children to Christ and to a life of obedience.”–FBCSA Next Gen Report, 2012.  For 3500 years it has been clear.  Parents are, first, to have God’s commandments on OUR OWN hearts.  From this intense, vital, personal relationship with the Lord, we are to TEACH OUR CHILDREN a similar love. What a privilege!  Lord, help us!

The ugly duckling

Re: Verse reading–1 Samuel 16:1-7; Psalm 139 (day seven)

“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”–1 Samuel 16:7.

News flash!  Man looks at the outward appearance.  If you are tall, thin, strong, good teeth, good hair you have an immediate advantage.  Spirit gram!  God does not do it that way.  “Heart” in the Scripture refers to the inner man.  The center of the soul.  Mind, will and emotions.  What God looks for in a person is not how she looks, but rather what he thinks and desires and feels.  Sometimes even believers forget this truth.  We covet beautiful and talented people only to miss the powerful friendship of the Eternal One as He touches/teaches/chooses/uses people who are beautiful on the inside.  Remember the Hans Christian Andersen story?  One duckling is considered “ugly” because He was actually a swan.  Misjudged at first, admired eventually, what we are (and are becoming) in Christ is all that matters.

Lord Knows

Re: Verse reading–1 Samuel 16:1-7; Psalm 139 (day six)

“You knew me thoroughly, my bones were not hidden from you… Examine me and probe my thoughts! Test me and know my concerns.” Psalm 139:14-15,23

You cannot know, relate to, or love yourself as you ought apart from God. Period. It is not that you are not capable of knowing the ongoings of your heart and mind, it is just that only God can provide proper perspective; he offers you the right view. Left to ourselves we see a distorted picture, a Picasso of the human self. We emphasize some things, and diminish others. We exaggerate; we are dishonest with ourselves. And enamored with what we can see with our eyes, we accommodate the expectations of the world by trying so hard to look the part. We idolize the outside with no consideration for the whole.

David asked God to search him (God needs no invitation), to shed light on who he really was, to offer the right perspective. Are you doing the same? Do you know yourself? Or is the world your guide? Run to Him, consume His Word, take a deep breath of the divine perspective, and you will see Him, and then see yourself. You cannot know yourself without God; anything else is a shallow facade.