Archive for the ‘Gospel of Matthew’ Category

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“RAISING THE UNDEAD” (Part 1) – Jan. 30

January 30, 2016

“For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”  Matthew 7:14

The group had been trudging for days along the wet, desolate, and narrow way.  They had been skirting a monolith, silently resting to the south, covered with a black cloud perpetually weeping over it.  They stared in dread of this place, always filling the periphery of their vision, knowing all too well the horror that lay within.

The dirt road meandered endless ahead, being lost to sight behind rocky climbs, just to suddenly reappear as a silhouetted streak across distant meadow, only to be lost again as it dipped over the horizon.  However, the oppressive presence of what they simply call the Place, suppressed the chatter of even the most stringent follower of this normally joyful fellowship.  Silence clung to the travelers each time the narrow path swung into close proximity of the Place.

The narrow road was navigating a circuitous route around the monochromatic city lying below, filling a landscape of hewed hills and diverted streams.  There were many diverting roads along the narrow path.  Each beckoning the earthly into the unearthly with an avenue of wide, smooth pavement, gently descending as if following a meandering stream into a welcoming reservoir.  However, each follower knew that what lay below was not a reservoir of refreshment but a cesspool of filth.

They had plodded past many tempting diversions never with a hint of turning from their long familiar path.  This was the reason for the gasp that moved as a wave through the group as their Leader silently turned, onto the pavement without the slightest warning.  His intention were clear.  They were to travel into the Place.

Many stopped, confused by the new direction.  Having recently escaped the clutches of the Place that now lay directly before them.  They dreaded any step in that direction.  Others slowed as deep apprehension made each step a force of will.  Even the longest followers of the Leader looked ahead with grave concern.  They had followed the Leader on several such diversions into the Place.  They knew what lay ahead.

The group had quickly strung out into a long single file string despite the width of the roadway.  Their Leader continued at the head, gracefully moving ahead with an effortless, yet deliberate pace.  Normally, each follower found the Leader’s pace easy to shadow despite their varying levels of conditioning.  However, many now found the pace uncommonly tasking and began to fall back.

By Roberto Strauss from Frankfurt am Main, Deutschland (Orange night sky Frankfurt) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Without any direction from the Leader, the long-time followers peeled back from their normal positions, to lend their strength to those struggling with indecision.  These experienced trekkers quietly stepped alongside those struggling with the dread ahead; gently lifting them, urging them forward with the confidence that they would all survive.  They had been through this before.  All would be fine if they just stayed together in the presence of their long-time Leader.

The quick diligence of these faithful followers successfully pulled the ranks of the group together just as they came to gates of the now towering terror.  The Leader looked over his shoulder and smiled to see that all who he had called were packed in tight.  He knew a long night was before each and every one.

Despite what the others sensed, he knew there was glory ahead.  He turned and took a step through the gates of the undead.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for drawing us through the narrow gate.  Thank you for coming into this dark world to seek and find the lost.  Thank you for saving me while I was still dead in my sin.  Thank you for cleansing me and making me a new creation in Christ Jesus.  I praise your glorious name.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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“No One Waits for a Domestique (LOTOJA Part 3)” – Sept. 21

September 21, 2015

“It shall not be so among you.  But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Matthew 20:26-28

Thank you for sticking with me as I have reflected upon my experience at the 2015 LOTOJA.  You can find part one and two here:  No One Waits for a Domestique (LOTOJA Part 1); No One Waits for a Domestique (LOTOJA Part 2).lotoja map_thumb[2]

I surmise that the general impression from the reading of my LOTOJA experience will be viewed as rather negative.

The LOTOJA is a very long bike ride on which you experience many emotions.  I experienced spectacular vistas, exceptional volunteers, and the exhilaration of achievement.  Yet, those experiences are not what come to my mind as I reflect upon the LOTOJA.  I have to consciously push aside my memories of frustration to mine the positive from my LOTOJA experience.

This reality demonstrates a distinct failure on my behalf. 

I allowed the behavior of others to dominate my perception of an epic ride.  I grumbled through seventy-five percent of my LOTOJA. My grumbling was fixated upon actions that demonstrated a disregard of my expectations.  I realize that the recounting of my fellow riders may characterize them as being rude.  However, it is not an entirely fair characterization.  They are good guys.  I never perceived any ill will through our trip.

Therefore, I choose to view my LOTOJA as a case study in differing expectations.

The term domestique, in cycling road racing, refers to the cyclist who works for the team and team leader.  They are the cyclists who carry the water bottles and food and do the work of pulling team members through difficult sections.  The French word, Domestique, is translated “servant.”

I had the expectation that this ride would consist of a team composed entirely of domestiques.  We were going to be servants to each other in order that we would all finish together.

981002_10201434224324276_965735367_oApparently, my team did not share my expectation.  They held an understanding more typical of cycling racing in which a domestique is dropped when he ceases to be useful.  My grumbling originated in the offensiveness of being treated as a domestique.  No one waits for a domestique and I had expected someone to wait for me.

I grumbled away the blessings of an epic ride dwelling upon unfulfilled expectations.

I confess that the LOTOJA is not the first time where I have allowed my grumbling to dominate the perception of my life.  I have expectations, like most people.  Those expectations typically reside upon people who are close to me.  I have expectations of family, friends, and Church fellowship.  I have the most expectations of those who have joined me on this spiritual journey called “life.”

I have relatively few expectations, beyond lawfulness, of those who are outside the immediacy of my life.  I don’t have a problem with them treating me as a servant.  If a person is not a Christian, I don’t expect him to display the fruits of the Spirit.  As John Newton  stated, they warrant my deepest pity, kindness, and prayers.  If he is a Christian, I seem to be more inclined to extend him grace because I don’t know his level of spiritual maturity.

I struggle most when those who are close to me treat me like a domestique.  I am referring to those situations when someone we consider a teammate in life acts upon differing expectations or fails to live up to our standard.

It hurts when those expectations are not fulfilled. 

It hurts to be disregarded.
It hurts not to be valued.
It hurts to be perceived as useless.
It hurts not to be included.

It hurts to be treated as a servant.

long_road-aheadI have wasted too much of this epic life grumbling about being treated like a domestique.  I know of too many circumstances where someone has allowed an offense to linger for years because of a failure to meet an expectation.

I have no solution to avoid the hurt.  We live in a messy world.  Those who are close to me are imperfect humans with indwelling sin.  I am an imperfect man in need of sanctification.  We will let each other down and treat each other in ways that are perceived as undeserving.

Our fundamental problem is that we don’t inherently want to be treated as a servant.  We get our feelings hurt when we are not appreciated or valued or included.

We grumble when we are actually treated like the very person we have been called to be.  Many Christians are comfortable with the title of servant just as long as they are not treated as such.

Ideally, we would live in a community abounding in the fruit of the Spirit where everyone has a servant’s attitude.  It would be like the perfect group ride where we are servants to each other in order that we would all finish well together.  That perfect world is coming, but it is not here today.   Our reality is that sometimes our teammates lose their servant’s attitude and do not reciprocate our expectations of servanthood and we are left feeling like a lowly domestique.

USAPCC_2Jesus called himself a domesitque.  Jesus did not come into this world to be served but to serve and he continued to serve even went He was treated like a servant…and worse.

We have been given an epic life to live.  Don’t allow the behavior of others to dominate your perception of value.  There are those in this world who may treat you like a lowly domestique.  Are you living for them?

God calls the true domestique great.  Greatness in the eyes of our Lord is our goal.  May we be true servants; in actions and attitudes.

PRAYER:  Father, forgive me for so often taking title of servant, but not the attitude.  Forgive me for allowing the opinions of others to dominate my perception.  Forgive me for not seeking first your kingdom and greatness in your eyes.  Help me Lord to be a servant in actions and attitude.  Help me to be joyful in being treated as your Son was treated; like a servant.  Give me a heart that values your approval above all others.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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TOMORROW’S STRESS – Jan 19

January 19, 2015

“But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” Matthew 14:16

enr 500I was recently reading the Engineering News-Record (ENR) 2014 listing of the top 500 design firms.   The recognition of the top five firms lists some of the largest engineering corporations in the world.

  1. AECOM Technology Corp., Los Angeles, Calif.
  2. Jacobs, Pasadena, Calif.
  3. URS Corp., San Francisco, Calif
  4. Fluor Corp., Irving, Texas
  5. CH2M HILL, Englewood, Colo

Sadly, my engineering firm did not make the list.

It was not a shock. I did not politely applaud while being overlooked. My firm was not even nominated. We have less annual revenues than most branch offices of these large engineering companies.

I perused in amazement the annual revenues these organizations require. My stomach turns at the scale of those numbers.  I know well the effort to feed revenue to a small consulting organization and I am daunted by the appetite of these mammoth firms.

The engineering profession has not fared well over the last six years. My firm, like many, is only a fraction of the size it once was and we have lost important clients in a hyper-competitive marketplace. We no longer have the backlog of work waiting patiently for us. We no longer have the confidence that shaking the marketing bush a little harder will yield more contracts.

I know well the pangs of a company hungry for revenue. It was not fun. It is not something I want to experience again. Ironically, the desire to avoid one pang can increase what one was trying to initially avoid – stress.

In the business world, we do not identify stress by its origins.

Many business people take pride in their ability to manage stress. It is characterized as strength. It would be an acknowledgment of weakness to actually discuss the origins of stress. Therefore, we cloak our insecurities in a generic category.

When I analyze the burden of my job stress, it reveals that the majority of what I generically call stress can more specifically be described as worry. I worry about how to keep an engineering firm operating. I worry about where the next client will come from. I worry about renewing contracts of existing clients.  I worry about retaining employees.

I am encouraged in the remembrance of Jesus feeding the five thousand. The people needed to be fed. The disciples had no practical way to feed that many hungry mouths. It was a startling lesson of faith.  Jesus gave thanks for what they had and multiplied it to what He knew they needed.

The last few years have proven that I cannot feed enough work into my engineering firm.  However, God can. He knows what we need.  He knows what it takes to keep me and my colleagues employed. He has proven that by keeping us in business when many other firms had to close their doors.

I am reminded by Jesus’ example that I need to be grateful for what I have.

Today, I have work to do. In fact, we have enough work to keep us busy through this coming year. God has been faithful. He has given me continued employment. He has brightened the future.

I am no longer worried about daily allocating a meager workload or weekly finance reports. Now, I find myself worrying about long-term projections – what will happen next year and in three years – what will happen when I need to retire.

How faithless is that?

God knows what we need.
We do not need to be anxious about our lives.

We do not need to worry about what we are going eat… what we are going to drink…what we are going to wear (Matt. 6:31) …how we are going to maintain our lifestyle…how we are going to manage our reputation…or whether our retirement be enough.

God knows what we need. All of those worries are manifestations of unbelief.

English: Jump! Deutsch: Spring!

Yet, those in the first world are among the most stressed – worried – people in the world.

For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Mathew 6:32-34)

So, how are we supposed to live?

We all have decisions to make. We must make decisions about careers, employment, and retirement. We must make decisions about what we should spend, save and share. We must respond to changing economics of the world we live within.

However, we do not need to stress – worry – about those decisions. We are not to allow our decisions to be governed by worry.

There are many considerations associated with making a good decision. Stress should not be one of them. A decision made for the primary purpose of alleviating the stress of worry is often a decision made in unbelief. Worry should never have a place in our decision making. It should be a foreign consideration in the life of a believer.

If your decision making revolves around the relief of tomorrow’s worry, then you might be making a decision based in unbelief.

The followers of Christ are supposed to make their decisions based on the kingdom of God and His righteousness. We have been given a wonderful promise. God promises to add all that we need when we seek first His kingdom. It is beyond our control to secure the future. God owns the future.

Many jump from one opportunity to another in an attempt to control the uncertainties of the tomorrow. The sad reality is worry always finds them. We cannot outrun worry.

The unbelief of worry has to be confessed.

J.C. Ryle said:

He offers us a gracious promise, as a remedy against an anxious spirit. He assures us that if we “seek first” and foremost to have a place in the kingdom of grace and glory, everything that we really need in this world shall be given to us. It shall be “added”, over and above our heavenly inheritance. “All things shall work together for good for those who love God.” “He withholds no good thing from those who walk blamelessly.” (Romans 8:28, Psalm 84:11)

The challenge for today is to walk by faith in God’s promise for tomorrow. Today, we are to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Tomorrow, we trust God to handle.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me of my unbelief.  Forgive me for not trusting in your promises.  Forgive me for trying to control the future.  Thank you for the blessings that you have given me.  Thank you for watching over and caring for me.  Help me to walk in your Spirit and to set my eyes on you and you alone.  You have given me a bright future, because you have made me your child.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

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SCAMMERS – Jan 9

January 9, 2015

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” Matthew 7:1

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:15

The familiar chirp of a text message emanated from my cell phone.

hello whats the lowest price for your Craigslist item(s) for sale. Will U accept a Cashiers check, IF OK PLS TEXT BACK, DAN

Texting on a qwerty keypad phone“That’s odd”, was my initial response. However, this was the first response to my Craigslist item so I was anxiously accommodating. I am trying to sell the sound system from our closed Church plant. Since the doors closed, this mound of electronics has ceased to emit sounds of worship and preaching, rather it accumulates dust in a basement storage room. We have dispensed with all the other accoutrements of the Church (Chairs and the Will of God).   I do not know all the reasons as to why it has taken so long to part with the sound system. However, I do know that it is not easy to sell a Church / DJ / Band sound system, regardless of whether there are deeper issues. There simply is not a large market for used sound equipment. Therefore, I was hopeful when some interest was shown in my Craigslist sound system advertisement. So, I texted back:

Dan – we will take $1,600 for the sound system; we would prefer cash. The sale will be at my business during regular business hours.

Dan replied:

1,600 sounds good. How should your name be on the Cashiers Check & what address should we mail it to. We’ll pickup after check clears Dan

All sorts of red flags went up with this response.

Who agrees to buy anything without first seeing the item? Who agrees to send money to someone they don’t know? What is this preoccupation with cashiers checks?

I discussed this series of texts with two of the more cynical of my co-workers. “Scam” was their immediate response.  Therefore, I Googled “cashiers checks” and “craigslist” and read theCraigslist page on how to avoid scams. Their fourth bullet point is “Don’t accept cashier/certified checks or money orders – banks cash fakes, then hold you responsible.” That was enough for me to make my decision. I texted Dan:

Too much fraud with cashiers checks anymore. Will have to require cash.

I never received a response from Dan.

Do you think that I was too judgmental of Dan?
“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1),
am I now subject to being judged based on my judging of Dan?

Maybe, I should have given him the benefit of the doubt and worked with him more.  Maybe, I was too cynical and just assumed the worst and lost out on a sale.

Or, maybe, Dan is a scammer in consumer clothing.

I think that Dan is the latter. The reason I can be reasonably assured of that characterization is because of his fruit. He did all the things that scammers do. When I tested his fruit,  he disappeared. I am not condemning Dan for his faults and refusing to forgive him. (Matt. 6:14-15) As a result, I am not judging Dan. What I am doing is practicing a discernment that does not condemn, but distinguishes a scammer from a true buyer in order that no harm will be incurred to my bank account. It would be naïve for me to think that there are not people in this world who are trying to scam me. It would be foolish for me not to practice discernment in business and finance transactions.

Yet, there are worse scams than being stuck with a false cashiers check. My soul and the souls of my family are of more value to me than my bank account. I believe that a scam that defrauds me with false teaching is much worse than anything Dan was trying to do. Therefore, I hope that I am much more diligent in discerning spiritual scammers than I am monetary ones. I am amazed at the lengths many will go in refusing to recognize the existence of scammers in the Church. We are told that there will be “Dans” in the Church. There will be scammers – false prophets who appear to be great people, true believers, great teachers, wise counselors, but who are really scammers.

It is not judging them to test their fruit.  When we practice spiritual discernment, we are not condemning a person for his faults and refusing to forgive him.  We are merely trying to distinguish a scammer from a true believer in order that no harm will be incurred upon the children of God. We are told some of the tell-tale signs of  a spiritual scammer that should send up red-flags to the discerning believer:
  • Controversies (1 Timothy 1:3-4)
  • Different Doctrine (1 Timothy 6:3)
  • Divisions (1 Timothy 6:4)
  • Destruction of Faith (2 Timothy 2:18)
  • Destructive Heresy (2 Peter 2:1)

We don’t need Google to help us discover the scammers of the Church. God has already told us what they will do and how they will do it.  It is up to us to respond appropriately when those red-flags of discernment go up.

PRAYER: Father, you told us that there will be scammers who will come into the Church.  Lord, I truly hate how our enemy attacks your children.  Make us wise.  Give us discernment to know who are the faithful and those who are not.  Enable us to respond appropriately and in love, but still responsibly so that people are not led astray.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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A FABULOUS PAIR OF LEGS – July 13

July 13, 2014

“Thus you will recognize them by their fruit.” Matthew 7:20

English: Recreational floaters on the Boise Ri...

My family and I recently floated the Boise River. While we waited in the rental line, I noticed a man in line before us. This man was probably in his fifth decade but he had a striking characteristic. He had fabulous legs. He did not have the legs of a middle-aged man. His legs were so distinct that I nudged my wife and whispered, “Check out the legs on that dude.”

the-razors-edgeThese were legs to be admired. They were chiseled masterpieces of bronzed muscle. The definition of his calf muscles hinted to a power unusual for a man of his age. The large veins that traveled along the inside of the ankle were visible up across his shins noting an uncommon endurance. It was obvious that these fabulous legs had been crafted over years of rigorous training and hours of intense activity. These sorts of legs don’t just happen.

These were the legs of an athlete.

It did not take much insight to determine what activity had crafted these legs. The tan-lines had distinct edges starting just above the ankle and ending just beyond the knee. However, the conclusive clue was what was missing. There was a feature normal to a man that was absent from these legs.

His upper body demonstrated a genetic ability to grow a furry coat. However, the legs contradicted his natural state. These legs had been groomed clean. There is only one type of athlete, who has legs that are muscled to the point of veins, tanned in this particular pattern, and shaven.tan-lines1

These were the legs of a cyclist – a long-time cyclist.

As I admired these fabulous legs, I narcissistically wondered what the person behind me thought about my legs. I wondered if my athleticism was as evident in my conditioning. As I glanced back at my own calves, giving them a little flex, I questioned how well my continence revealed the passions of my life to an examining eye.

Beyond my vanity, the important passion of life looms large. I really care very little about getting recognized for a great pair of legs. However, there are characteristics that I hope are recognizable in a casual observation.

Does the person next in line see self-control in my behavior?
Has my wife come to expect gentleness in my response?
Are my kids accustomed to patience and kindness in my reactions?
Do my co-workers consider me a peaceful person?
Would my biography describe me as a joyful and good man?
Am I recognized by love and faithfulness?

Our passions are obvious to those around us and the fruit of our lives are revealed in a myriad of manners. I hope that we all can be identified by characteristics that are more important than a fabulous pair of legs.

PRAYER: Father, I want to be known by the fruit of your Spirit.  I want to be recognized as a child of God.  Lord, continue your work within my heart.  Transform me into your likeness.  May the world see you in my life for your glory.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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I SEE NAIL PEOPLE – Mar. 27

March 27, 2014

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye.  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3

 Nails Italiano: Chiodi Ελληνικά: καρφοβελόνες

It’s Not About the Nail (This post will make more sense if you watch this video first)

I see nail people walking around like regular people. They go through life seeing only what they want to see. They don’t know that they have a nail sticking out of their forehead. (I See Dead People)

I am a nail fixer.

I want to pull these nails that plague nail people’s lives.
I see the logical consequences of nails.
I am saddened by the blindness to their nail.
I don’t like to talk about nails.
I find little benefit in dwelling upon nails.
I just want to pull nails and be done with it.
I am frustrated by damage that never needed to have happened.
I mourn the inevitable results of nail blindness.

I am a nail fixer.

Yet, those who I try to fix are often scratched and scared by my efforts.
Often, my frustration only makes the original snag worse.
Frequently, the force of my pull on the nail acts more like a hammer.
The fruit of my nail fixing can logically mean only one thing…

I am a nail person.

My nail is the nail of  “I”.
We all have nails that we are blind to; a blindness that God often allows.
A nail of  “I”  supplants the sovereignty, grace and mercy of God.
None of us have been called to indiscriminately pull nails in our blindness.

We have been called to love our brothers and sisters as ourselves.

In that love, the personal nail of  “I” is bereft.
In that love, we may be called to help pull a nail.
In that love, we may be called to hold a hand through obvious consequence.
In that love, we may be called to pray in silence.

In that love, we are always called to glorify God.
In that love, we are always called to trust in God’s sovereignty.

In that love, we allow our personal nail of  “I” to fade into the great “I AM”.

PRAYER: Father, you know that I am a blind fool.  You know the log of “I” that has blinded me for so long. Lord, remove the log from my own eye.  Help me to love others as myself.  Enable me to love without the plague of my nail.  I want you to be glorified in all that I do.  Forgive me of the times that I have only made things worse.  I want to see beyond myself.  Teach me how to focus on you and thereby love the ones you have called me to love.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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HYPOCRITCAL HONOR, LET ME COUNT MY WAYS – Mar. 21

March 21, 2014

“You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”   Matthew 15:7-9

office space1Hypocritical honor is inexorably linked with authority in a world that seeks favor.

I receive authority through the position that my municipal clients hire me to fulfill.  I have been complemented and praised by those with pending applications.  My opinions have been sought as a wise advisor by those to whom want my favor.  My friendship has been elicited by those under my authority.

I understand that much of the honor that I have received while residing in even limited authority is not genuine.

Much of the honor lavished upon those in positions of authority comes only by lips.  I know what it is like to hear words of praise and then observe actions that reveal a contrary heart.  Hypocritical honor is merely an acceptable form of bribery offered in hopes of receiving favor.  There is an astonishing variety of insincere honor that can be observed in our daily lives:

Children learn early to honor their parents in order to manipulate favor.

In hope of obtaining better grades, students heap adoration upon teachers and professors.

Incompetent officials are rarely challenged for want of a favorable future decision.

The camaraderie of managers is regularly fostered for job security.

In hope of getting out of a ticket, traffic violators will pile upon the officer layers of polite respect.

Politicians are often honored solely due to their elected position and not for anything they have done (or despite what they have done).

offficespace2Most of us have succumbed to hypocritical honor.  It is how we get through many of the ubiquitous layers of authority in our daily lives.  Hypocritical honor is a danger whenever authority is present in an association.  We all want favor and we can slide into insincere honor of those in authority without even being aware of what we are doing.

There is no higher authority than God.

and

We all want God’s favor and blessings in our lives.

God the Father 04

God the Father 04 (Photo credit: Waiting For The Word)

This combination of authority and desire for favor is ripe for hypocritical honor.  Everyone is in danger of sliding into an insincere attitude toward God without even realizing what we are doing.  The religious, those who have grown up in the Church, and those adept with Christian culture, are the most susceptible.  This was Jesus’ criticism of the Pharisees.  The Pharisees lavished words of praise and esteem to God but they did not love God.

But woe to you Pharisees!  For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God.  These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.  (Luke 11:42)

God is like no other.  He has established a relationship with those who are His that is not based upon authority and favor.  God showed His love (favor) to this world by sending His only Son, Jesus Christ, into world so that anyone who believes in Jesus Christ will not perish but have eternal life.  For those who are in Christ, the relationship with God has fundamentally changed.

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.  (John 15:15)

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.  (John 1:12-13)

So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.  (Galatians 4:7)

In our new relationship with God, we are to relate to Him as our loving Father.  We are to seek Christ as our friend.

We should never come to our Father, heaping words of adoration in hopes that He will not whack us – that is hypocritical honor and He hates it.

We should never be obedient in hopes of obligating favor from God’s authority – that is what a slave does and it is hated by God.

Our actions should originate out of love for our heavenly Father; it should be demonstrated by a friendship with Christ.  It is why Christ said:

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (John 14:15)

We can know our honor is sincere when it is demonstrated through obedient actions willingly given from a heart motivated only by love.  May we examine our hearts so that what comes out of our lips reflects a heart that is living in the favor of a new relationship as a child of God.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for sending us your Son to give us a new relationship with you.  Forgive me for reverting to my old slave mentality of seeking your favor through heartless words and actions.  Forgive me for not treating you as my friend and Father.  Forgive me for being a hypocrite.  Help me to live in your love.  Help me to respond to you in love in all my words and deeds. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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