I like simplicity. I’m not big on a lot of fluff. I’m not interested in all the details, I prefer just to get the highlights of a story. The same is true in the Christian faith.
Well, Jesus summed up the Christian faith for us. On one occasion, Jesus was asked, “What is the most important commandment?” Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul.” Then Jesus said, “The second is like unto it… Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:36-40).
This is an excellent summary of the 10 commandments. When you love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, you are taking care of the first four commandments. When you love your neighbor as yourself, you are taking care of the last six commandments.
So, love God and love your neighbor. Do those two things and we will live in obedience to God .
Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’[d] 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[e] No other commandment is greater than these.”
Are we the pampered generation?
Ok, don’t bow up on me here. Let me explain.
I think most would agree that this generation has more things than previous generations did. We have more stuff today. More toys. More gadgets. In fact, we have so much “stuff” we can have difficulty understanding what is needed.
For instance, do we really need dvd players in our vehicles? It’s nice to have but is it necessary? Not really.
Do we really need televisions in every room in our homes? Again, convenient, but not necessary.
What about travel? Many people will complain if a Church talks about money but when a school holiday rolls around they somehow find the money and take a trip. Several years ago, I heard a very prominent local Preacher say, “When school holidays roll around you would never know we are in a recession.” I agree completely.
There is nothing wrong with these things if we can afford them… well, some of it may be excessive even if we can afford it but we badly need to come back to reality today.
We are pampered. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone talk about taking a “much needed” vacation. When I hear this, I chuckle. We have bought into the n0tion that our lives are so tough and we are SO stressed-out today that we NEED time away. Folks, we have it far better than preceding generations. We badly need to get a grip today. We need to come back to reality.
Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 16:24-25).
Lots of things we have today, we don’t have to have. They are nice but essential? No.
God has promised to provide for our needs. Let’s trust Him for that.
“I just need to get away from all the stress!”
Ever heard someone say that? I have; more than once. And I admit, when I hear it, I almost cringe inside
When someone says something like that, it indicates they feel they have had a lot of stuff going on and they just need to get away. So, the answer to all their problems is to get away.
Maybe it’s a cruise or a trip to the mountains or to the lake…. just get away… leave ALL your troubles behind.
There are times when everyone needs some rest. There are times when a few days away may help someone. But not all the time.
Psalm 55:6 says, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.” The Psalmist wanted to get away as well. But later, David says, “As for me, I shall call upon the Lord (55:16). David had learned to put his trust in the Lord.
And that’s what you and I should do as well; instead of thinking we can solve our problems by “getting away,” learn to trust in the Lord.
Think about this with me. When a person wants to “get away,” that indicates they want to leave their troubles behind. Ok, I understand. But… hello!! when you come back from the trip, the troubles are still there. They didn’t leave just because you left. So, instead of thinking a few days away will solve your problems, deal with the problems.
Don’t get away! Stay home and deal with your problems.
Are you ever talking when you should be listening? Yep, me too. We all have a tendency to open our mouths when we should be listening.
The Bible says there was a time when Jesus took Peter, James & John & they went up on a mountain. While there, Moses & Elijah appeared & Jesus was transfigured before them. Seeing this, Simon Peter suggested they build three monuments; one for Jesus, Moses & Elijah. At that time God spoke from heaven & said “This is my beloved Son, listen!”
I can identify with Peter. He was talking when He should have just worshipped. Most of us can probably identify. There is an old saying; “God gave us two ears & one mouth; which indicates we should listen twice as much as we talk.”
Today, try to listen more & talk less.
Do you ever feel like you are worthless? I mean, you grew up on the wrong side of the tracks or you don’t have the education someone else had or maybe you have a speech impediment or some other physical handicap? If you do, I’ve got news for you… God loves you… your background or physical limitations don’t matter.
There is a story in Mark’s gospel about a time when a Syro-Phoenician woman approached Jesus and asked Him to cast a demon out of her daughter. Jesus told the lady it was not appropriate for him to interrupt this meal to give food to the dogs from the table.
Hearing this, the lady responded, “Yes Lord; but the even the dogs under the table are allowed to eat the scraps from the rich man’s table” (Mark 7:28). When Jesus heard this, he told the woman to go her way that her daughter was well.
If you grew up tough or had to overcome lots of adversity, there are times when you can feel the cards are stacked against you. This lady was a Greek, and Jesus was Jewish. Why would he overlook His people to help her? But she found out that He would.
I don’t know your life story. Don’t need to. I don’t what setbacks you have experienced or what heartaches you have encountered. Maybe you have been abused. Maybe you’ve been lied to. Maybe you have made some mistakes. It doesn’t matter. Our past does not matter. Jesus loves us all. He meets everyone of us where we are and lovingly moves us to where we need to be to bring glory and honor to the name of Jesus.
This Syro-Phoenician woman knew her situation. She said, “Lord, just give me crumbs from the rich man’s table.” Jesus did better than that… He healed her daughter. Is there someone asking for crumbs in our life that we need to help? Do it today, in the name of Jesus.
Are you familiar with the term “scapegoat?” You probably are. Sometimes, a person is made to be the “scapegoat”..ie… taking the blame for something…. and they lose their job. The “scapegoat” may or may not have made a mistake… that doesn’t matter… some action has to be taken, and they are made “the scapegoat.”
The nation of Israel had a scapegoat as well. Every year on what was known as “The Day of Atonement,” God told Moses to go through a ritual that would make atonement for the sins of the people. Part of that ritual was a goat, known as the “scapegoat” being led away into the wilderness. As it was, the sins of the people were being taken away.
Now, fast forward to the New Testament. When Jesus hung on the cross, He became our scapegoat. Jesus took all the sins of mankind, from the beginning of time until the end, and they were placed upon His body. In so doing, Jesus became our scapegoat.
We should praise the Lord… we should love for the Lord… because He became our scapegoat in order that our sins could be forgiven. Praise the Lord!
“Don’t be a hater!” You have probably heard people say that. Hatred is a very strong emotion. It’s led people to take the lives of other people or to do someone harm
The writer of Proverbs even says “Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses” (Prov. 10:12). Ok, so, let’s say there is someone you simple do not get along with. You don’t have to best friends with them; but you don’t need to hate them.
God made us all. As the children’s song goes;
“Red and yellow, black and white;
They are precious in His sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
Now, you may ask, “What if a man are living together outside of marriage? Do you still love them?” Yep, but I would encourage them to get married.
What about if a teenage girl is pregnant. Do you still love her? Yep, and I would lead the church to minister to her.
What about if a homosexual or lesbian comes to us for ministry. I would love them and try to help them.
What if someone asks you to perform a wedding ceremony between two homosexual men or lesbian ladies? I could not do it. I would love them and try to help them but I couldn’t do that and I would hope they would respect it.
So, are you “hating” on anyone? If you are, with the Lord’s help, stop. It’s not doing anyone any good. As the writer said “Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses.”