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nChrist
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« Reply #30 on: February 19, 2006, 04:20:53 AM »

February 18

On Honesty
Mat_5:33-37

The world in which Jesus lived was permeated with a concept that we have forgotten:  the oath.  The idea is relatively simple.  If you take an oath in God's Name, you know that God is jealous for that Name.  He will not hold you guiltless if you use his Name when making a promise to someone else—a promise you had no intention of keeping.  Therefore men took such oaths, and required others to take such oaths, so that they might be trusted.

The practice is rare now.  I have taken two solemn oaths:  the first at our wedding, the other upon entering military service.  For the rest, the bank wants a check that won't bounce.

Things were more primitive then.  Men elaborately constructed all sorts of oaths which sounded extremely binding—but, by some twisted theological reasoning, were not binding at all.  The oath had become something which could not be trusted.  This is because the men who gave them could not be trusted.  Men regularly used the Name of God as we today would use a check guarantee card.

Which brings us to the reasons Christ forbids the oath:

If you take them often enough, sooner or later you're going to fail to perform your oath.  Then you have begged for the wrath of God.  Count the cost!

When you fail to perform your oath, you bring the Name of God into disgrace.  Your character was not sufficient guarantee, and so you brought God's character—and now you have blackened it.

The oath was to invoke the fear of penalty.  Even today, perjury—lying under oath—is considered a crime, at least technically.  For the Christian, however, there should be no need to take an oath.  It should be plain to those around him that his words are true.

"Your word is your bond," my father taught me.  To watch him carefully count his change at the store, and then hand back some of the money with the words, "You gave me too much," has quite an effect on a young child.  It has even more effect when he discovers the miscount at home—and goes back to the store to rectify it.  He was a finance officer in the Army;  his government entrusted millions of dollars in cash to him on his signature alone.  It was no great risk.

Do you want your light to shine before men?  Then let your yes be yes and your no be no—you need nothing further.

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« Reply #31 on: February 23, 2006, 06:14:11 AM »

February 20

Financial Advice

Mat_5:42

There has been a remarkable change in attitude towards things financial between the time of the early church and today.

In the early church, giving was largely to the poor—others in need.  We often hear the phrase, "The Lord loveth a cheerful giver."  Look it up;  you will see that Paul wrote it in the context of giving financial aid as a remedy to poverty.  There is no passage in the New Testament that talks about giving to the church—only to those in need.

It is also the consistent attitude of the early church that those who gave were not to evaluate the need of those who asked.  One writer, Hermas, put it this way:

"Do good, and give liberally to all who are in need from the wages God gives you. Do not hesitate about to whom you should not give. Give to all. For God wishes gifts to be made to all out of His bounties."

The Old Testament tells us to be "open handed" and to freely lend.  Our Lord here repeats this attitude.   You may not be able to provide completely for someone—the phrase is "give to the one who asks," not "give what they ask"- so it would seem you are not responsible for the result;  only the giving.  How can this be?

First, because the wealth is not ours—it comes from God.  We are stewards, not lords, of our money.

Second, if we will not give, we must hoard.  This leads only to hardness of heart and misery.

Third, because you have received from those you cannot repay.  If you cannot repay, you must  do the next best thing:  pass it on.

If you truly believe, then you will know that your giving is only lending to the Lord (Proverbs 19:17) - and he will repay you, now or at the resurrection of the righteous.

Finally, are we a family, the family of God?  Then should we not behave like members of that family?

Consider this:  if the church stopped judging those who beg and ask, and gave or lent generously, this would no doubt affect the capital campaign of many a congregation.  But which is the better witness for our Lord Jesus Christ:  a shining cross on the top of the steeple, or the shining deeds of love done by the Christians therein?

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« Reply #32 on: February 23, 2006, 06:15:46 AM »

February 21

Love Your Enemies

Mat_5:43-48

We have reached the highest pinnacle of Christian conduct.  It is also the rarest.

That most Christians are friendly people is commonly seen.  We are often polite, careful to repay any favor, and generally inclined to good relations with one another.  We often tell our children that this is to "set a good example for others."

Would you really like to set a good example?  Then love your enemies, as Christ here commands.  Nothing so astonishes the people of this world as when a Christian returns good for evil.  Perhaps it is astonishing because it is so rare.

Note what Christ would have you do:

Love your enemies.  Not merely like them, or smile at them, but genuinely put their welfare on your "to do" list.  This is an action, not an attitude.

Pray for those who persecute you.  When you encounter someone who seems to specifically target you—lift up holy hands to the throne of grace on their behalf.  Christ is not fond of half measures.

If you do this, you will be known as God's children.  The Scripture is plain that the test of fatherhood of God is obedience to his commands.  In doing this, you will be made "perfect."  The original word means "complete, fit for a task."  You will be completed as a son of God.

If this was easy, everyone would do it.  But see how everyone wants it!  Which would you rather have:  an enemy to persecute or a friend to love?  Our complaint is not that this is a poor idea—it's that it's hard, and we are weak.

Are you too weak to do this, and therefore ask God to excuse you from such a difficult commandment?  This is not wise;  instead, you should ask him for strength to do as he commands.

You already have two examples of how powerful this love is:

The greatest example is Christ himself, who went to the cruel Cross for the sake of those who sent him there.

But you are another example.  Are you proud of everything you've ever done?  No one is.  Yet you have no difficulty in loving the sinner you are, even if the sins are terrible.  Christ is simply asking you to apply the same standard to everyone else.

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« Reply #33 on: February 23, 2006, 06:17:36 AM »

February 22

Secret Giving
Mat_6:1-4

You can almost imagine it.  The band assembles at one end of Main Street.  Behind them is the convertible with Mr. Big inside.  The trumpets blare, down the street they march, and at the other end Mr. Big presents a generous donation to the church.  It's almost comic;  it lacks only a pie in the face at the other end.

Jesus provides the pie in the face.  He shows here the abiding desire in human beings for empty glory.  He divides the world into two types of givers, by various means:
The crucial dividing point is not whether or not the giving is public, but whether or not the intention was for everyone to see it and applaud.

We characterize that as the love of being seen.  Some, however are shy, and would do things privately—as long as word leaked out soon enough.

Spectators you will have, in any case.  But who would you rather have as your audience:  a collection of rattling tongues in empty heads, or the Lord God Almighty and all the heavenly host?

You must have a reason for giving.  Which reason would you choose:  the fleeting glory of the moment, bought over and over again, with diminishing joy—or the reward of God, the Eternal One, and joy that never fades?

Glory will certainly be given;  people will praise generosity.  If you get it, then that is your reward.  If God gets it, then He will reward you generously.

It comes down to a choice of righteousness:  you can create your own mist of righteousness or accept the rock solid righteousness of God.

Our Lord took it for granted that his disciples would give to the poor.  Even the widow gave, and was praised for it.  Giving, though, is a matter of the heart much more than a matter of the checkbook.  The desire for your own glory is a slithering snake, sliding in to tempt the most generous.  Satan has no scruples in whom he will attack.  So our Lord says, "Be careful."  Almsgiving is a time for careful planning, quiet doing and prayerful reflection.  Plan that only God will know;  do the giving quietly, and then thank God for the means to give—and the method.

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« Reply #34 on: February 23, 2006, 06:19:27 AM »

February 23

Secret Prayer
Mat_6:5-8

The admonition to secret prayer is well known to most Christians.  Indeed, there are many who will not pray aloud in a group;  this is largely due to shyness.  Our Lord is speaking here of prayer for show.  So why "in secret?"

First, when you are in secret, you are much less likely to be influenced by others.  There is no crowd to follow, so you follow God instead.

Prayer is a way of honoring God; after all, if you are asking someone for a favor, that means that the person can do something you cannot.  Therefore, there is no need for anyone else to see it.  God can afford to be modest.

This can also increase your faith.  If you pray to your Father in secret, no one knowing your request, and He grants it—tell me, how did this happen?

It is possible that he will not grant your request in secret—but note that he will reward you.  Even when God says "no," he brings blessing with it.

Some may object:  "Why, then, pray at all?  After all, God knows everything we're about to ask.  What purpose has it?"

Your Father knows your every need—but he also wants you to know that you are not delivering a laundry list to him.  You are approaching the throne of grace with humble petition.  Prayer, in secret, establishes the correct relationship between God and man.
Prayer calms the soul and readies the mind for action.  When you pray, you must be prepared for the time when God calls on you to do something.  If you pray that God will feed the hungry when you have a full larder, you can expect a grocery order.

Our Lord adds the injunction that you should not babble on.  This is not a barrier to a long prayer, nor even repetition—remember the widow and the unjust judge?  It is the cure to a common misconception among Christians.  "If I just had exactly the right words in my prayer," we think, "God would do exactly what I want."  Those are the words of one who thinks that prayer is a form of reciting magical incantations.  The right wording matters very little compared to the humble heart.  Remember just who is beseeching whom.

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« Reply #35 on: February 25, 2006, 09:06:01 AM »

February 24

Our Father
Mat_6:9

In the opening of what is now entitled the Lord's Prayer, Jesus condenses into few words some of the greatest idea in history.

Our Father

This is a new concept.  The Old Testament hints at it in Isaiah, but now it is made clear.

This is a great source of hope.  Our Father!  Is there anything more dear to a good father than his sons and daughters?

He is "our" Father—not "my" Father.  In that one little word we see that our prayers should not be for ourselves but primarily for our brothers and sisters.

The Fatherhood of God implies the brotherhood of man.  You cannot go to God in prayer, calling him "Our Father", and then deny your brother in need.

In Heaven

If you are going to ask someone for a favor;  if you need to beg for some assistance, it is best to begin with something which is both favorable and true.  Your hearer will appreciate it, and it sets the proper tone for what follows.

This phrase reminds us where He is—and we aren't.  We need to recognize that we are not standing on level ground with Him.  We're looking up to Him.

If your Father is in heaven, then you are an heir to the kingdom of heaven.  Does your life show it?  Do you act like one of God's children?

Hallowed

The word means, "to be kept holy."  Why is this necessary?

First, the prime purpose of man is the glory of God;  by this prayer we acknowledge that.

We are asking that it be;  and that commits us to keeping it holy.

Moreover, we should do this daily (remember daily bread?) - so that we are constantly reminded of it.

We, too, are called by that name.  We are the children of God;  it is our family name, and for that alone we should keep it holy.

This is the first petition in the Lord's Prayer.  It is the most important one too, for it concerns the glory of God.

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« Reply #36 on: March 02, 2006, 07:03:35 PM »

February 26

Daily Bread
Mat_6:11

Until this phrase, Christ has taught us to pray for eternal things.  He now turns to temporal things.  But if we are to pray for temporal things, we must still have the eternal view in mind:

There is only one time in our lives where we touch eternity.  That time is "now."  Only in the present do we live.  But to God, the author of time, all times are "now."  So when he commands us to deal with temporal things in the eternal view, it must be with a time of "now."  Hence, our "daily" bread.

It is also a matter of faith, of trust.  If we obey his commands and take no thought for tomorrow, then we need ask only for today's bread.

And for what do we ask?  Bread.  Why "bread?"

Bread is the symbol of the physical things we need.  God is interested in all of our lives, not just the spiritual.  He wants all of our lives to be under his command.

We ask for bread, not for cake.  The peril of pursuing wealth is known to all Christians.

When we ask for daily bread, we are asking for just enough for today.  This is so that we will not have too little, and be forced to steal; nor that we shall have too much, and deny God by boasting in our own wealth.

By asking for "just enough" for today, we deny gluttony its great chance.

We ask, "Give us."  The plural is important.  We are to pray for the physical things we need, both for ourselves and for those around us.  If you go to God asking bread for the hungry, it is hard to deny them some of your own.

Bread is a very basic item.  Martin Luther points out that when bread cannot be obtained, it is usually because of the chaos coming from a lack of sound government.  So in praying for our daily bread, we also ask for an orderly society—the kind in which the Gospel spreads quickly.

Hidden in this passage is another meaning.  Bread—the Bread of Life is also present.  Given to us by God at Calvary, we are to ask for that Bread too.  We are to ask for it daily, not just once a week, lest we have spiritual starvation.  We are to ask for ourselves, and for those around us, that all may be fed from heaven.

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« Reply #37 on: March 02, 2006, 07:05:59 PM »

February 28

Temptation
Mat_6:13

There is a lesson in humility hidden in this verse.  Have you ever noticed that it is the mature Christian—whom we would think would have the best defense against temptation—who most often prays this prayer?  This is a reminder to each and every one of us that , of ourselves, we are not strong enough to deal with temptation and evil.

Temptation comes in many forms:

For the young Christian it may come in the form of the flesh—lust, in particular.  As you mature, the things of this world become more tempting.  But Satan reserves his most powerful weapon—pride—for the mature Christian.

It may be a spiritual form of temptation (your prayer life versus your television) or a physical form (why did you go into that bar in the first place?)

It may be obvious temptation, quickly visible to all.  It may also be very subtle, the sly wink and offer to join in something not quite ethical.

It may be a sudden temptation, such as anger.  It may be a persistent temptation, as with envy.

But whatever it is, when we pray this way, we recognize that God has all power over it.  We are asking him not to leave us to it.  Rather, we ask him to prevent it.  But if that time has passed, then we ask him to deliver us from evil.

We ask him to deliver us from evil, not just now, in the present, but also those evils which haunt us from our past.   We ask also for protection from those which may come later.

We ask so that Satan himself will not have a handle with which to throw us around.  Blackmail is not always done for money.

We ask for deliverance from those who persecute us, whether physically or socially.  Deliver us from our sins, so that they might not taunt us—and deliver us from them.

In this last phrase of the Lord's Prayer we see the Christian's complete and utter dependence upon God.  We are saying that by ourselves we know we cannot stand up to the sin in our lives.  So we ask God to keep us from the opportunity to sin, and pull us out of trouble when that opportunity comes along.  He is our lifeboat in a sea of temptation.

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« Reply #38 on: March 05, 2006, 12:12:43 AM »

March 3

The Bank Account
Mat_6:19-21

In your home is a book whose reading is somewhat difficult but extremely informative.  It is your checkbook.

The disposition of the money you have is a sure sign of the heart you have.    This passage is a clear warning to Christians.  We are often told that God looks on the heart, and this is our best advice on how to make sure he'll like what he sees.

The passage talks about your treasure, not just your money.  What is it that we treasure more than the kingdom of God?

For some of us, it is indeed money.  We measure ourselves by our bank accounts and stock portfolios;  Wall Street is our number one topic of conversation.  One key indicator is this:  if you can't understand why someone else does not think the same way, your money has your heart.

For a while our treasure may be in the things of the flesh—usually the opposite sex.  But human beings are complex, and we cannot rule them.  This usually fades.

Our treasure is much more commonly the prestige this world has to offer.  We may see money as fleeting and the flesh as vain, but we are so concerned with our image, our position, our prestige.

In each of these circumstances, there is a good question:  Just who owns what?  Do you own the money—or does the money own you?

Our Lord does not condemn money.  Indeed, the Scriptures tell the rich to be generous, but the rich are not condemned simply for being rich.  When they are condemned, it is because their wealth comes before their devotion to God.

You are the steward—not the lord—of your possessions.  God has entrusted them to you for a little while.  (If you think not, give it a hundred years or so).

Recognize that the things of heaven and the things of this world must be kept separate;  worldly things can be made to serve heavenly purposes, but not the other way around.  If your Lord commands you to give to the poor, the fear of becoming poor in the process should not bother you at all—for the God who provided your riches in the first place is certainly capable of providing much more.

A man with much money once put it wisely to me:  "Money is an excellent servant—but a poor master."

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« Reply #39 on: March 05, 2006, 12:14:31 AM »

March 4

The "Single" Eye
Mat_6:22-23

This passage poses some difficulties in translation for the modern readers.  The King James talks about an eye which is "single" - and that is the meaning of the word in Greek.  It is variously translated "good," "healthy," or "clear."  The medical point to the ancients is fairly obvious. An eye whose lens was clouded—by cataracts, for example—wasn't much use in seeing things.  You wanted one image, and a clear one at that;  a "single" image.

If you didn't have that, you were in a lot of trouble.  You could see just enough to get into trouble.

The same is true with the eye of the soul, the human understanding.  We use the phrase "I see" to mean "I understand."  And if my understanding produces a double image, or a blurred image, then my soul suffers greatly, even though everything else is in order.  This eye is the light of understanding by which the soul sees God.  How, then, can a man be of "single eye?"

Integrity.  Integrity means "oneness"- it comes from the same root word as "integer."  If you have integrity, you are one person in spirit and action, heart and belief.

Simplicity.  How often we "adjust" our style of dealing with others based upon who the others might be!   We are smooth in dealing with the boss and harsh with the subordinates, foxy with our peers.  Simple honesty works better and takes less effort.

Purity.  We demand it in our foods and medicines but see no value for it in ourselves.  One heart, open and compassionate, with no deception in it—this the Lord desires.

Fidelity.  It means faithfulness.  It means to be the husband of one wife (and not looking for another playmate).  It means to stick with your friends, your church, your country through the tough times as well as the good times.

Fidelity is faithful not because it is profitable, but because it is right.  One wife, one God—faithful to both.

Have you ever met a man like that?  I hope so.  This is the kind of man we like to do business with—we know he won't cheat us, and any defects of product or workmanship will be made good.  This is the kind of man you hope your daughter brings home to introduce to Daddy.  Such men are hard to find, but there is a good method for locating them.  Be one, yourself.  Then the eye of the soul will recognize the others quickly.

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« Reply #40 on: March 10, 2006, 02:46:51 PM »

March 9

The Narrow Gate

Mat_7:13-14

The people of Jesus' time would have understood the comparison.  If you built a city in those days, it would have a strong, fortified wall about it.  Into that wall you would set gates.  Gates could be of two types:

The broad gate was one which was designed to promote commerce.  The merchants came in and out of these.  They were closed at sunset, and opened at sunrise.
The narrow gate was designed for defense.  It was usually not open at all;  during times of attack it was easy to defend  and also served as a useful sally port.

From that alone you can see that a narrow gate was the hard way to get into the city.

Christ here points out to us that all have two choices in life.  We'd like to believe there are many options;  in fact, there are two.  One of them is the way of life.  All the others can be lumped together, making a broad way and wide gate, leading to hell.  Is this really so unexpected?  Most of life's problems have many answers—but only one right one.  As your father taught you, the hard way is usually the right way.

The words our Lord uses here have some descriptive power:

The word for "small" (strait in the King James) does mean narrow—but narrow because there are obstacles placed on either side of the gate.  As we go through the gate of life these obstacles are there to remind us of the way we should go.  Thank God for your obstacles;  by them he puts you back on the right path.

The word for "narrow" (translated "hard" in other versions) means "afflicted, or troubled."  The Christian life is not the life of ease;  it is a life of trouble.  There is trouble because this world is not our home, we're just traveling through.  There is triumph because at the end we receive our reward from our Savior.

Whenever I would tell my mother that "all my friends are doing it," she would reply, "If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?"  She understood the narrow way and the hard road.    If you are not bumping into obstacles; if you are not afflicted and troubled on the way, then ask yourself just how much traffic is going by.  Perhaps you are on the wrong road.

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« Reply #41 on: March 15, 2006, 01:33:25 AM »

March 13

A Funeral
Luk_7:11-17

It is easy in our culture to recognize a funeral procession.  We, like the ancients, call our family and friends to our side.  We, like the ancients, bury our dead in a particular place.  They did it to avoid ceremonial uncleanness.  Perhaps some of that thought stays with us today, for it is still a test of courage to stay in a graveyard after dark.

The woman in this instance was indeed an object of pity.  Nain is a small town;  likely enough all the townsfolk were with her.  As a widow, she would be poor and dependent upon her children for her living.  As this was her only son, she
would now be destitute financially as well as emotionally.

Into this ordinary, daily drama steps Jesus, the Christ.  In it we can see both sides of his nature.

We see Jesus the Son of man.  Luke tells us his heart went out to her, and indeed it is easy to see why.  She has lost the one last love in her life, her only son.  She is utterly alone.  Into that "alone-ness" comes someone who tells her not to cry, an act of human sympathy and compassion.  It is not until he has comforted her that the miracle is done.

We see Jesus the Son of God.  In his command to the body of the young man, we can see nature of his power:

The command to the corpse is personal.  There is no sense of magic incantation here.

It is indeed a command.  This is not a plea to the Father, but the word of true Authority.

It is a command to the corpse—just as one day He will give that command to all who are dead, and they shall rise at the Last Judgment.

There are two kinds of funerals.  For those who do not know Christ, the funeral is a bittersweet ceremony.  Some try by pomp to hide the fact of death;  others tell happy myths about reincarnation or other spiritual life.  The tales about the dead which bring so much joy in recollection are the knives which stab us with loss.

But—for those who do know Christ, the funeral is very different.  Through the tears there is an unmistakable joy.  The Christian knows (as the Navy burial service puts it) "the sure and certain hope of the resurrection of the dead."  At the command of Christ, we will rise again, to the glory of God.

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« Reply #42 on: March 15, 2006, 01:35:15 AM »

March 12

The Centurion
Mat_8:5-13

(There is a parallel account in Luke, chapter 7, with some varying details.)
There is something almost unique going on here.  Perhaps Christ senses the faith of the man, and therefore is willing to do more than he will ask.  This may be the cause, but it is also possible that his reaction comes from a desire to use this man as an example of virtue.  What kind of virtue?

Faith, to be sure, is what we see first.  Our Lord here commends it as being indeed rare.  That is often the end of the matter, but there is still something to be seen.

This centurion understands the authority of Jesus Christ.  So many of us conveniently forget that all authority in heaven and on earth is given to our Lord.  This man sees authority in Jesus.  How did he know?  It is because he himself is a man of authority—and one who knows how authority is rightly handled.

First, though he is a Roman in conquered territory, he loves those he rules over.  This is a true understanding of authority;  authority is given for the benefit of those in submission to it.  Such authority flows best when motivated by love.

Next, he is, by his own words, "not worthy" to have Jesus under his roof.  He knows the greatness of the man to whom he is speaking, and his own insignificance.  Humility is an honest opinion of yourself, especially when compared to God.

He has practiced this authority—and learned from it.  His eyes were open to see how authority worked well, and poorly.  So he knew the real thing when it arrived.

Christ takes the man in the form requested.  The command of authority is given instead of the visit and the tender touch.  To those of authority, Christ responds in authority.

But what of those who deny the authority of Christ?  There is only one way to do that:  they must rely on their own authority.  This may be their own learning, or their position, or their money, or simply their own arrogance.  The omniscience of God, the authority of the ruler of heaven and earth, the wealth of God the creator—these things must be denied too.

Sadly, there are those who call themselves Christians who do this.  Those who do not acknowledge the authority of Christ in this life will be obliged to do so at the Day of Judgment.  Authority will render Judgment in Power.

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« Reply #43 on: March 15, 2006, 05:47:57 PM »

March 15

John the Baptist
Mat_11:7-15

It is an awesome thought that the least of the kingdom of heaven must be greater than John the Baptist.  Since Jesus affirms him to be the greatest prophet ever given, we might indeed conclude that entrance to the kingdom of heaven is quite beyond us.

The passage is a difficult one, but not one without hope.  Jesus is telling them that the entire order of things in the kingdom of God is about to change completely.  John is the last of the old order and the herald of the new.  So let us look at the old order—and then the new one.  First, the old order:

If you tried to be in the kingdom of God you would indeed need to be one of the "forceful men."  Everything depended upon your good works.  Tithes of this, sacrifices of that, ritual obedience in regulations that go on for pages—personal force was required.

A personal firmness of character was required too.  You could not be a reed blowing in the wind, shifting this way and that.  You had to be prepared to stand firm, for if you departed from the way at the end, you were doomed.

All this was accompanied by a personal asceticism—you fasted, you lived in tents one week a year, you practiced a life of self sacrifice and self denial.

The better you were at ritual, firmness and self discipline, the higher your rank in the kingdom.  That is how greatness was measured in the old way.

But greatness in the kingdom of God is now measured by one thing:  how closely you are in contact with Christ.  No one in the old way had such contact—which means that Christ must be very great indeed, if such contact lifts you above all those.  And Christ is indeed great.  Firmness, forcefulness and asceticism are no longer pillars, but adornments, gracing the one who has accepted the grace offered at the Cross.

Since the time of John, neither prophet nor king has arisen in Israel.  Moses prophesied it this way:

(Gen 49:10 NIV)  The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.

The scepter has departed, for He has come.  The supreme prophet, our High Priest, the King, has come.  Soon, he says, he will be coming again.  Soon!

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« Reply #44 on: March 19, 2006, 06:43:29 PM »

March 19

My Yoke
Mat_11:28-30

Insomnia is a wonderful teacher.  One late night in a hotel room I was reduced to watching taped reruns of a weight lifting competition in Russia.  Out came Ivan, and lifted an enormous weight.  The barbell was so heavy they sent ten Russian soldiers out to carry it off.  On came Igor, and an even greater weight.  But to clear the stage this time they sent one skinny Russian soldier—with a forklift.

We read these words of Christ and ask, "How can his yoke be easy?"  This same Christ told us of the narrow road, the pearl of great price.

One way to see it is to compare it to the burden of the Old Testament Law, and all its requirements.  Another is to compare it to the burden of sin.  Think what a cruel burden it is, for example, to be so enamored of riches that you always want more.

The best answer, however, is found in that forklift.  The weights are very heavy when you must lift them by yourself;  but if you will seek the aid of Jesus, the burden will be light.

But you must ask!  All things can be done through Him, who gives you strength.
If you are repairing your car, you know that the easy way is to do it the right way the first time.  In life it is the same;  do it His way the first time and it works.

You complain of being weak?  Remember that his power is perfected in your weakness—so that others might see him through you.

Things are hard when you hate to do them, easy when you love the work.  Do you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength?

Weight means nothing until measured.  Are you measuring yours by how others appear, or by the eternal reward of glory your Lord has promised you?

He asks you to take his "yoke" upon you.  The yoke unites you with Christ—and if with Christ, then with all Christians.  He will comfort you so that you may comfort others.  They in turn will come to your support, and lighten the burden.

Some of us are weightlifters, capable of huge burdens.  Most of us are not.  Let the peace of Christ, which passes all understanding, be the forklift of your burdens.  Your burdens will be light.

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