Acts of Righteousness One-a-Day Tuesday  11/13/18

A life worthy

Be careful not to do your “acts of righteousness” before men, to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven (Matthew 6:1).

Don’t be a poser.

I know, sometimes that’s easier said than done.  We live in a society that judges you by your social media posts.  It can be difficult to pass up the opportunity to let your friends know how giving and loving and tender-hearted and generous and basically amazing you are.  We want 1000 likes and comments of, “Wow! You’re so awesome! I wanna be like you!” Who doesn’t need a pat on the back from time to time?

But, when it comes down to it–and it always does come down to it– which would you prefer–an “attaboy” from your peers, or one from, you know, the Lord of the Universe?

Thought so.

So, again,

Don’t be a poser.

Happy Tuesday, Beloved.

Perfect One-a-Day Monday 11/12/18

A life worthy

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48).

That’s setting the bar kinda high, don’cha think?

Exactly

Beloved, you know we can’t be perfect.  I know we can’t be perfect. Jesus most definitely knows we can’t be perfect.  So why does he call us to perfection?

Two reasons that I can think of.

First, in one swell foop he destroys any lingering notion we may have had of making it to heaven on our own.  Jesus just finished laying out an impossible set of standards for love and forgiveness; now he follows up by telling us that we can never ever even one time fail even a little teeny bit in that love and forgiveness. I don’t care how hard you train in the high jump, nor how impressive your quads are, nor how amazing and fluid your technique–you are not going to clear a bar that is set infinitely high. So get over it.

Or, actually, don’t get over it.

You see what I did there?

There is One whose love is perfect, who can clear the bar no matter how high it is set, and he’s the focus of the second part of Jesus’ command. The Father is capable of the kind of love and forgiveness that we can only imagine. And while we can’t love perfectly on our own, we can tap into that love.  Just as we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and renewed by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, so we can love with the love of the Father. In him, through him, by his grace we can be who he has called us to be.

At least, that’s what I think he’s saying. But what do I know?

Be perfect, Beloved.

In him.

Happy Monday

Undeserved Love One-a-Day Friday  11/9/18

A life worthy

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (Matthew 5:46-47)

It’s nice to be nice to the nice.

–Maj. Frank Burns, M.A.S.H. 4077

Beloved, let’s face it–some people are easy to love, and some are not.  We are called by the Lord of the Universe to love them all.

Period

It’s not the way I would have designed it, which it yet another in the ever-increasing pile of reasons to be glad I’m not God.

But consider, Beloved, that if God chose only to love those who were lovable, you and I (mostly I) would be ever so deeply doomed.

We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

I would pray that God would give you many opportunities to love unlovable people today, but then you might come for me and hurt me.  Then I would have to love you when you are being unlovable, and it would all get messy.  How ‘bout this: I pray that God grants you the grace to show His love to everyone he brings your way today.  Does that work for you?

It works for him.

Happy Friday, Beloved.

Sunrise and Rain One-a-Day Thursday  11/8/18

A life worthy

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous(Matthew 5:45).

It just doesn’t seem fair.

Why should God treat us the same way he treats them? Why should they prosper, and grow, and have happiness and success and ice cream and nice things?  They don’t deserve it

like I do…oh…right.

‘Cause, if we start talking about what we deserve, we’re doomed, Beloved.

Let us not be doomed.

Our God is kind.

It’s his kindness that led us to repentance.

And maybe them as well.

And that…that’s what it’s about.

Happy Thursday, Beloved.

Love Those Enemies One-a-Day Wednesday  11/7/18

A life worthy

You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.”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 5:43-45).

Jesus said this.

Sometimes, I wish he hadn’t.

It’s just so stinking hard, you know?

Trust me–I just tried, a moment ago.  I prayed for someone who has caused me great, undeserved grief.  The prayer barely escaped my clenched brain and, frankly, was not as heartfelt and authentic as one might hope.

Jesus is just so much better than I am. Jesus prayed for those who mocked and beat and crucified him, even as they were doing it.  

I can’t love like that.

Honestly, I don’t even want to.

Yet

But I want to want to, and I trust that someday, by His grace, this shrivelled old heart will flow with his love and his compassion and his forgiveness and…him.

The Potter, as it happens, is not yet finished with this particular lump.

Thank God.

Happy Wednesday, Beloved.

Selfless One-a-Day Tuesday  11/6/18

A life worthy

And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.  If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you (Matthew 5:40-42).

Again, it’s not about you

or your stuff

or your rights

or your reputation.

God does not call us to exalt ourselves,

but to deny, and humble, and give ourselves.

You want extreme?

This is extreme.

Are you in?

Happy Tuesday, Beloved.

Eye for Eye One-a-Day Monday 11/5/18

A life worthy

You have heard it said, Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.” But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also (Matthew 5:38-39).

The concept of Eye for an Eye has been misappropriated.  The way I understand it, the idea was one of limiting punishment, not intensifying it. The rule fit the punishment to the crime, and kept the offended party from going on a revenge rampage. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that people were actually taking eyes and teeth and limbs; God was simply establishing an upper limit on retribution.

Somewhere along the line, the idea devolved into, “You hurt me–I hurt you!”

With much growling and grunting and flaring of nostrils and gnashing of teeth.

As you may have noticed, that’s not what Jesus is about.

The world teaches us from an early age to stand up for our rights, and not to let anyone walk all over us. And here is Jesus, telling us the opposite.

What do we do with this?

I want to be really careful about speaking for Jesus, but I think there are a couple of points to keep in mind here.  First, this is a general principle, not meant to cover every encounter. I don’t think Jesus is counseling the battered wife or the abused child to keep absorbing punishment.  Nor do I think Jesus wants us to stand by passively while another is hurt or abused. The need to stand up to evil is deep within us, and I think that desire is from God.

The principle here is that we do not belong to ourselves.  When we get consumed with our rights and our hurts and what we deserve we forget that we have been bought with a price. We are not our own.  Jesus, as he spoke these words, was preparing to face greater personal pain and loss and humiliation than you and I can imagine.  But he wasn’t going to call for vengeance. He was going to trust the Father who loved him and cared for him and was totally capable of protecting him to use this nightmare for his own glory. Which was what Jesus lived for.

It’s not about you, Beloved.

It’s not even about me.

It’s about Him.  

Happy Monday.

Cross My Heart One-a-Day Friday  11/2/18

A life worthy

Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by Heaven, for it is God’s throne;  or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one  (Matthew 5:33-37).

If you can do it–do it.

If you can’t do it–move on.

I’m pretty sure God would rather see you do one good thing for the Kingdom than hear a thousand nifty promises.

So, have a great day…and keep your mouth shut.

Happy Friday, Beloved.

Divorce One-a-Day Thursday  11/1/18

A life worthy

It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery (Matthew 5:31-32).

People use these verses to formulate or justify their views on divorce and adultery and remarriage and that’s fine, because the verses address that,

but  

they’re really about so much more.

Remember, Jesus is talking to those of us who get caught up in the minutiae.  Those who want to dot the “I” and cross the “T” and thread the needle and ignore the big picture.

Jesus never ignores the big picture.

Jesus is the big picture.

Marriage is more than the relationship between husband and wife, as important as that is.  It is a picture of the relationship between Jesus and his Church. As such, it is eternal. Today’s society can be pretty flippant about marriage.  If a couple “falls out of love,” if they “grow apart,” they can get a divorce and go their separate ways. Jesus is making sure we understand that marriage is not something to casually toss in the wastebasket.  Two become one; tearing them apart is a kind of death.

Look, I know that divorce happens for a lot of reasons, and it’s not always an easy choice. Sometimes people are not given a choice. I’m not trying to minimize that, nor am I throwing blame on anyone.  We live in a world that is broken, and that brokenness shows up in relationships. When it does, it brings pain and fear and loneliness and aching emptiness.

In a way, I think those who have suffered divorce can come closest to identifying with Jesus on the Cross.  The relationship that is closer than any other has been ripped from you, often without your desire or consent.  You are left broken and exposed and very, very alone, wondering

Why have you forsaken me?

Take comfort, Beloved, in the fact that there is One who will never leave you, never forsake you, never divorce you. He chose you long ago, and he never makes mistakes or changes his mind. You are his, and he is yours, now and forever.

Happy Thursday, Beloved.

Thanksgiving in October One-a-Day Wednesday  10/31/18

A life worthy

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.  Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:19-20)

Today is Halloween.  A day on which this fallen world celebrates death and darkness.  Oh, they wrap it in candy and pumpkins, but it is what it is.

Maybe today could be your personal Thanksgiving. Make a point of noticing the blessings in your life.  Point them out to your friends and praise God together. Pick your favorite worship song and get it stuck in your head.  In short, fill yourself with life, not death…with light, not darkness.

Yes, you may still dress up like a superhero and eat candy.

Happy Wednesday, Beloved.