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Friday, July 25, 2014

Who is at the Gate?




 

Who is at the Gate?

Luke 16: 19-31

 

 

Jesus was a great story teller, but He never gave names to the people in his stories.  That is except in one story!  And that was the story recorded in Luke 16 that we call “The Rich Man and Lazarus”.  Lazarus is the only person Jesus ever named in all of his many stories.  And the name “Lazarus” means “the Lord is my help.” 

 

In Jesus’ story, Lazarus is a dirty homeless man who begs for food.  And he is also a dying man with running sores all over his body and no family who would care for him.  Why would Jesus give this nobody a name when He didn’t give names to the rich and famous in his stories?

 

Jesus’ story starts out like this:  “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and lived sumptuously every day.” (Today this rich man would own two mansions and a villa with fifty maids and cooks and grounds people and he would drive a Lamborghini and a Rolls Royse and have his own private jet and throw lavish parties for other rich people)  (Luke 16:19) 

 

Jesus continues the story: “But there was a beggar named Lazarus, who was full of sores and someone laid him down at the rich man’s gate.  Lazarus, the beggar, was hoping he might be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table.  And as he lay there at the gate, the dogs came and licked his sores.”  (Luke 16:20-21)

 

 Jesus never says that Lazarus got to eat some of the rich man’s leftovers as he had hoped he might.  And it seems that the rich man never even noticed Lazarus laying there dying in the dirt as he rushed past his gate to his important meetings. The only ones to notice Lazarus there at the gate were the dogs!  And they licked his sores. 

 

Jesus continues the story:  “So it was that the beggar died, and he was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom.  And the rich man also died and was buried.  And being in torments in Hades, the rich man lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.”  (Luke 16:22-23)

 

We see that the rich man is in a place of torment.  The rich man’s wealth did not condemn him to hell and Lazarus’s poverty in this life did not cause him to have eternal joy in the next.  Our eternal destiny according to Scripture depends on our relationship to God which is often reflected in our attitudes toward material possessions!  

 

Abraham was a man of great wealth, as was David and Job.  And as far as we know these three men all might have been selfish like the rich man in Jesus’ story and felt that they were better than people who had less material possessions.  Abraham and Job were imperfect sinners.  And during his lifetime David committed some serious sins (like murder and adultery for starters) that are recorded in Scripture.

 

 But Abraham, David and Job will be part of God’s kingdom because these three wanted to follow God and each one wanted God’s will in their lives.  Each one was willing to open his heart to God and let God lead. Each one was sorry for their sins.  But I believe the rich man in Jesus’ story went to a place of torment after death because he didn’t care about what God wanted and he had hardened his heart to letting God change him.         

 

Jesus continues telling the story.  “Then the rich man cries and says, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue for I am tormented in this flame.’

 

But Abraham answered, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted and you are tormented.  And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass over to us.’ “(Luke 16:24-26)   

 

Jesus’ story brings up powerful images!  Images of reward and punishment and images of those who care and of those who don’t.  Images of a great chasm!  Do we create a chasm when we have apathy toward the needy?  When we don’t care?  Is it our job to let God help us close the chasm if we can? 

 

Jesus finishes telling his story.  “Then the rich man says, ‘I beg you Father Abraham, please send Lazarus to my father’s house.  For I have five brothers and Lazarus can talk to them, lest they also die and come to this place of torment.’  And Abraham answers him, ‘Your brothers have Moses and the prophets: let them hear them.’” (Luke 16:27-29) 

 

“And the rich man answered, ‘No, Father Abraham, but if one goes to my brothers from the dead then they will repent.’  But Abraham answered him saying, ‘If your brothers do not hear Moses and the prophets, then they will not be persuaded even if a person rises from the dead.’”  (Luke 16:30-31) 

 

Jesus’ story’s ending illustrates how perilous it is for a person to harden his heart to God’s commandments to help the poor.(given by Moses and the prophets)  Even a miracle will not soften his heart when we ignore God long enough.  Jesus is teaching that material possessions are a trust from God to be shared and used responsibly for the good of all.  I believe that Jesus told this story to call those who did not share their time and money with the needy to repent and to help others around them as much as they could. 

 

All through the Bible these lessons commanding us to be generous are repeated again and again!  Repeated I believe, because this matters so much to God!  Giving to the poor is not an option for God’s people!  In the first book of the Bible – Genesis – Cain is found asking God the question: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  (Genesis 4:9) And the answer from God most definitely is “Yes, you are!”

 

 In Exodus God warns the Israelites not to mistreat an immigrant or a widow or an orphan.  Jesus himself was once an illegal immigrant when He was a small child!  God sent an angel to tell Joseph to take Jesus and his mother Mary and run away to a foreign country since it was unsafe for them to stay in their own country.  Herod was trying to murder the baby Jesus.  The holy family had to travel from Israel on a donkey all the way across a hot dry desert to Egypt.  It must have been a perilous trip with robbers and lack of water and other dangers lurking along the way.  I am glad that Egypt didn’t turn them away but granted them a safe place to stay.

 

 At this time our country, the United States, has thousands of immigrant children coming to our borders looking for safety.  Similar to Jesus’ family having to flee their own country to save Jesus’ life, many of these immigrant children’s parents have sent them out of their own countries hoping to save their lives. We have a humanitarian crisis at our doorstep.  There are 47,000 immigrant children at our gates in desperate need of help right now.  Would God have us lock the doors and leave them there at the gate? 

 

In later books of the Bible God is found telling the Israelite people not to pick all of their grapes when they harvest their vineyards, but to leave some of the fruit for the poor.

And further on in Scripture we read that the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah happened because of their guilt.  And then Scripture tells us that Sodom’s guilt lay in the fact that she was over fed and did not share her food with the poor. (Ezekiel 16:49)

 

Jesus always tells his stories for a purpose.  And I believe that Jesus gives us this story about the rich man and Lazarus to remind us again that we are His hands and feet.  That what we do for the least one we are doing for Him!  That we are to open our hearts and pocket books to the needy in His Name. And that He is counting on us to pay attention to those in our sphere of influence – the ones we find who are left at our gates!   

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

  


Monday, July 21, 2014

Jesus is Arrested



Jesus is Arrested

Matthew 26

 

 

 

Jesus and the disciples are walking to the Garden of Gethsemane while Peter is arguing with Jesus.  “Even if I have to die with You, I will never deny You!” Peter fusses.  (Matthew 26:35)  And all the other disciples join Peter insisting that they would never leave Jesus in his hour of need.

 

Jesus had predicted that before the rooster crows in the morning that Peter would deny Him three times.  And Jesus had also mentioned that when he is being judged and crucified all of the other disciples will run off and pretend not to know Him.  Peter and the other disciples did not want to hear this.  They tell Jesus that they would never leave Him: -that they will always be loyal to Him.  . 

 

Jesus told the disciples that He would be raised from the dead and that He would meet them in Galilee afterwards.  So he was already trying to set up a meeting with them after his resurrection.  “But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”  Jesus told them. (Matthew 26:32)  But even though Jesus often had discussed his death and resurrection with the disciples, they just didn’t seem to understand!

 

When they arrive at the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus begins to tremble with agony.  He begs the disciples to stay with him while he prays.  “Sit here while I go and pray.  My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death.  Stay here and watch with Me.”  (Matthew 26:36b and 38) 

 

Then Jesus prays to his Father: “Oh My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”  (Matthew 26:39)  Scripture says that Jesus had the power to stop his death.  He gave it up for us.  “I lay down my life that I may take it again.  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself…”(John 10:17-18) But Jesus was completely submissive to the will of the Father.

 

Jesus was in agony and prayed most of the night in the Garden of Gethsemane.  But his disciples slept.  Several times Jesus tried to wake them up to sit there with Him and be a comfort to Him, but each time they went right back to sleep. 

 

Finally Judas appeared with a large group of soldiers all carrying lanterns and swords and clubs along with the chief priests and elders.  It was dark and the soldiers couldn’t tell which man was the one they should arrest.  But Judas had agreed with the chief priests that he would give them a sign to point out Jesus.  He would walk up to Jesus and kiss him and that would be the one they would arrest.  Judas threw Jesus away and Scripture says he was no longer a disciple but was replaced by Matthias. (Acts 1)  Judas’ extreme rejection and betrayal of Jesus had consequences.   

 

So Judas, as planned, walked up to Jesus and kissed him and the soldiers grabbed Jesus and started dragging him away.  But in the scuffle, Peter pulled out his sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest!  He was just trying to defend Jesus, but Jesus stopped him.

 

Jesus reached out and put the ear back on the servant and healed him.  And then Jesus told Peter to put his sword away.  And he said: “He who lives by the sword will die by the sword.  I can pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels.”  (Matthew 25:52b-53)

 

 I believe that Jesus was telling Peter – and all of us - that his message – the Christian faith – is not to be defended or advanced with force or with human weapons.  The Christian faith is only to be advanced and defended by love and by prayers and by humility!  “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord.”  (Zechariah 4:6)  At that point all of the disciples ran away.  I suppose they were afraid that they might be arrested along with Jesus.

 

The soldiers tied Jesus up and dragged him away to Caiaphas, the high priest’s house, where the scribes and elders were all waiting.  But Peter followed Jesus at a distance all the way to the high priest’s courtyard.  And he sat with the servants to see what would happen.

 

The priests and elders were so anxious to have Jesus put to death that they would lie or do just about anything.  But their laws said that an accused person could not be convicted of a crime without several people testifying against that person.  So the priests and elders were trying to get people to give false testimonies against Jesus and they couldn’t find anyone.   

 

Finally the high priest turned and spoke directly to Jesus and said: “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.”  (Matthew 26:63b)  And Jesus answered him: “It is as you say.  Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Father and coming on the clouds of heaven.”  (Matthew 26:64)

 

 Here Jesus acknowledges to the high priest and everyone in the assembly that He is indeed the Son of God and He adds that a time will come when they will see Him coming from heaven in the clouds as the Messiah and fulfilling the messianic prophecy of Daniel 7:13

 

All of the priests and elders there in the assembly tore their clothes and said: “He has spoken blasphemy!  What further need do we have of witnesses?  He is deserving of death?”  (Matthew 26:65-66)  Then they spit in his face and beat Him and struck him in the face and made fun of Him.

 

All this time Peter has been sitting outside in the courtyard with the servants and then a servant girl comes up to him and asks Peter if he is one of the ones that was with Jesus.  Peter immediately denies this to the girl and to the crowd nearby and says: “I do not know what you are talking about!”  (Matthew 26:70)  Peter jumps up and starts walking out the gate when another girl sees him and turns to her friends and says that she thinks that Peter was one of the ones who followed Jesus!  When Peter hears this he gets angry and starts swearing and says: “I do not know the Man!”  (Matthew 16:72.)

 

And then an hour or so later some of the people who were standing around the fire with Peter warming their hands insist that he must have know Jesus.  And in between  swearing and cursing Peter insists that he never knew Jesus at all!

 

 And then it happens!  A rooster crows!  And Peter stops and remembers what Jesus had said to him!  “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”  (Matthew 16:75)  Peter is so ashamed of himself!  He turns and runs out of the courtyard and weeps bitterly. 

 

Jesus chose these twelve men; these disciples and He held nothing back from them.  These twelve had seen it all – the miracles, the healings, the teachings and the love poured out.  Jesus had given them his power to heal and cast out demons.  And Jesus had given them all of Himself. 

 

But still these disciples were slow to believe.  When Jesus told them again and again that He would be resurrected after his death, they still didn’t get it.  And when Jesus was in agony and depressed and needing his disciples to stay with Him and give him courage  while He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, they all went to sleep.  And when He woke them up begging them to stay awake and be there for Him, they went back to sleep again. Do you think Jesus was disappointed with these followers of his? 

 

And when He is arrested and carried off to be tried and murdered, all of his disciples run off and leave Him.  And Peter denies Him three times.  And Judas betrays Him and joins up with the enemies who plan to crucify Him.  And all for thirty pieces of silver!  Do you think Jesus was discouraged with these disciples of his?

 

And a more important question:  Do you think Jesus is ever disappointed with us?  You and me?  Disappointed that we don’t love Him all the way or that we follow Him from a distance?  And discouraged when we deny Him when things get tough and disappointed when He needs us to be there with Him and instead we fall asleep?

 

Do you think Jesus is ever discouraged with us when we run away and don’t do the right thing?  We might lose face or we might have to pay a high price in order to do that right thing.  So can we be counted on to follow Jesus even when we have to pay the high price and carry the cross?  And can we stand up for Jesus even when everyone else is denying Him?  We tell Jesus, “Oh, yes, I will always follow you!”, but will we really?

 

Jesus had imperfect disciples who had lots of problems.  Disciples who disappointed Him and let Him down.  So maybe there is hope for us.  But Jesus still loved them dearly and gave them the keys to the kingdom.  He gave them his Holy Spirit and He gave them everything He had.  If He was so generous and forgiving to his followers back then He will be generous and forgiving to us today when we mess up

 

 What we do matters to Him, so let’s try not to disappoint Him..  Since He has such great love for us, let’s choose to love even when it is so tempting to hate. And let’s follow Him all the way to the cross, even when we may be crucified along with Him.     -    

 

       

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

 


Monday, July 14, 2014

This is My Body and This is My Blood



This is My Body and This is My Blood

Matthew 26

 

Jesus had been trying to tell his disciples that soon he would be put to death.  But finally He tells them that time is running out.  That He will be crucified during the Passover feast and the Passover feast is just two days away!

 

After Jesus reveals this upsetting news to the disciples they all stop by Simon the leper’s house in Bethany.  And while they are all visiting Simon, a woman comes up to Jesus as he is sitting at the dinner table.  The woman has an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil and she pours it over Jesus’ head. Scripture doesn’t tell us the woman’s name. 

 

But Scripture does tell us that the disciples are indignant because they believe that the woman has wasted this costly gift on Jesus. They criticize the woman and tell her that she should have sold the fragrant perfume for a lot of money and given the money to the poor instead of giving it to Jesus!

 

Jesus jumps in and stops the disciples and then thanks the woman for pouring out her costly gift and her love onto him.  He says that in pouring the fragrant oil over his body, the woman has done it for his burial and He really appreciates it.  And then Jesus says that wherever the gospel is preached that what this woman has done for him will be told as a memorial to her. (Matthew 26:13)  Is Jesus telling his followers that He wants their adoration and their praise?  Is He telling us to follow the woman’s example and give our best to Jesus?  Is He telling us that we are not wasting our love and our costly gifts when we give them to him or to his work?

 

Next Scripture tells us that Judas Iscariot snuck away from the rest of the disciples and went to the chief priests and offered to help them capture and arrest Jesus: “What are you willing to pay me if I deliver Him (Jesus) to you?”  Judas asked the priests.  (Matthew 26:15)  And then the religious leaders counted out thirty pieces of silver and gave the money to Judas Iscariot.  Then Scripture records: “So from that time on he (Judas Iscariot) looked for opportunities to betray Him (Jesus).”  (Matthew 26:16)  Judas Iscariot’s motive for betraying Jesus and helping those who would murder Him clearly was greed for money.  He truly was an evil man. 

 

Jesus sent the disciples ahead into Jerusalem to a friend’s house where they were to eat the Passover meal together.  And that evening Jesus and the twelve disciples all sat down together to share the Passover meal.  But while they were eating Jesus told them: “I tell you for sure that one of you here will betray Me.”  (Matthew 16:21)  The disciples were horrified and each asked Jesus if they were the one.

 

 And finally Judas asked if he was the one and Jesus answered “You have said it.”  Then Jesus explained: “Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!  It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”  (Matthew 16:24)  Scripture says that Satan entered (and energized) Judas Iscariot at this moment (John 13:27) and Jesus told him that if he was going to do this deed then to do it quickly. (John 13:27)  So Judas Iscariot got up from the table and left immediately.  (John 13:30) And the disciples sat around the table not understanding what was happening or why Judas Iscariot had gotten up and left.

 

After Judas Iscariot left the dinner table, Jesus and the eleven disciples continued eating dinner together.  And while they were eating Jesus took bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: “Take, eat: this is My body.”  (Matthew 26:26)  And then Jesus took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying: “Drink from it, all of you.  For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”  (Matthew 26:27-28)      

 

What did Jesus mean when He said that the wine was His blood of the New Covenant?  Jesus uses the occasion of the Passover meal to bring in the New Covenant.  The New Covenant was put into force by the death of Christ.  In the old covenant, a male lamb without any blemishes was killed for the sins of the people.  But of course an animal couldn’t really take away sins.  These (perfect) lambs without blemishes that were sacrificed under the Old Covenant between God and Israel were pointing toward the future when the perfect Lamb of God – Jesus Christ -(without sin “blemishes”) would someday come and take away the sin of the world. (John 1:29) (One of Jesus’ names is “Lamb of God”)  

 

The Old Covenant or Promise given by God to Israel required continual animal sacrifices made over and over again for the ongoing sins of the people.  But Christ’s death provided a perfect sacrifice and took away the sin of the world once and for all. (Hebrews 8:6-13)  The holy requirements of God spelled out in the Old Covenant were forever satisfied with Jesus’ death. So a new and living way into the presence of God was being prepared through Christ, the Lamb of God. 

 

The bread is Christ’s body which is broken for us and the wine (or grape juice) is His blood which was shed for us.  Jesus asked his disciples and all believers to eat the bread and drink the wine in remembrance of Him.  And Scripture tells us: “for as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”  (1 Corinthians 11:26)  Jesus tells the disciples: “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”  (Matthew 116:29) 

 

There is a serious warning in Scripture concerning how a person should take the Lord’s Supper or receive the body and blood of Christ.  A person should examine himself or herself and never partake of Christ’s body and blood in an unworthy or casual manner.  And an unbeliever should never take the Lord’s Supper since an unbeliever does not discern the Lord’s body or believe in Christ as Savior. It would be meaningless and blasphemous to play games with the body and blood of Christ.

 

The Bible sternly warns:  “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.  But let a person examine himself and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.  For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep (are dead).  (1 Corinthians 11:27-39)

 

 These Scripture passages show that there is power in this sacrament and in the body and blood of Christ.  Power that is not to be misused or dishonored!  The Lord’s Supper is a mystery that we should not take for granted.  Jesus’ death is never to be treated disrespectfully or casually. 

 

Taking the bread and wine as the body and blood of Christ is called Communion or the Lord’s Supper by Protestants and it is the Mass for the Catholics. It is a sacred and powerful sacrament and the meal should always be taken prayerfully and in a serious and worshipful manner.  Believers should confess their sins and forgive one another before coming to the communion table.  This meal does draw each believer into a closer and more intimate relationship with his/her Savior.  Many Christians believe they receive a special blessing when they kneel at the communion railing and take the bread and wine.  Jesus has given us this communion meal as a way of uniting us with Himself and it is a mystery and a blessing and a sacred gift.     

 

 

    

 

  

 

  

 

       

 

 


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Does God Have an Answer for my Anger?



Does God Have an Answer for my Anger?

 

 

When we become angry we can do and say things that we later regret.  And when we hold on to our anger for awhile we can become bitter and lose the peace that God intended for us to enjoy.  We may really want to follow Jesus and be a good Christian.  But offenses will come into our lives that can trip us up and cause us to become angry.  And our anger can open the door to back biting and hatred and other dark emotions that can keep us from walking the Christian walk!  So what are we to do?

 

We can become angry for several different reasons.  First of all we can become angry when we are hurt or rejected by friends or loved ones.  When a bond is broken that we never imagined would break.  A joyful parent does his best caring for his dearly beloved child and then the child grows up and cuts the parent out of his life. We all have a need to be loved and to belong.  And we can use anger to try to protect ourselves from the pain of rejection and from the loss we experience when we are shunned by those we care about.

 

We can feel angry when our performance is not accepted and when our best efforts are thwarted.  An employee does her best on the job, working overtime year after year and dedicating herself and all of her efforts to her company.  And then one day her employer fires her and hires someone else.  We like to feel that we matter and our efforts matter and that we make a difference.  So we can become angry when our sense of significance is threatened and when others do not treat us the way we think they should. 

 

We can become angry when our rights are violated and when we believe we have been treated unfairly.  Perhaps we have been overlooked for a promotion or not given the respect or pay or position that we feel we deserve.  Perhaps we have been cheated or criticized or made fun of or ignored or insulted.  In these situations we can react with anger along with other unpleasant emotions.

 

And we can become angry when we feel threatened or worried.  Perhaps we work for forty years for the same company and over those forty years, each month we pay into a retirement fund with the promise of receiving those funds back upon retirement.  But then upon retirement we find out that the contract that we worked under all those years has been broken and our retirement fund has been emptied out by the company we worked for.  And we are left without the monies we had counted on as we are entering old age.  Everyone has a need for security and we can feel angry when our security and our future has been jeopardized. 

 

Yes, as long as we live on this planet we can count on offenses coming into our lives – hurtful situations that can cause us to become angry.  Scripture says: “Humans are born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.”  (Job 5:7)  And we know that the sparks from the flames of an open fire always do fly upward. 

 

  But God speaks to us through Scripture and tells us how to deal with these offenses and what to do with our anger and our emotional pain.  “Be angry and do not sin.  Do not let the sun go down on your wrath or give place to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-27) God tells us to give our pain and our anger to Him.  He will deal with it.  And come to Him quickly with it.  Do not even hold onto our pain and anger overnight.

 

You are never powerless because you have the power to release your pain and anger to God.  If there is something you can do to make the situation better then do it.  But then leave the outcome in God’s hands.  He can take care of what is making us angry when often it is too much for us to handle.  Surrender our situation and our self to God.  “Casting all your cares on Him, because He cares for you.”  (1 Peter 5:7) 

 

When we are angry at someone, God commands us to forgive.  The Lord’s prayer states: “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us” (Matthew 6:9)  Also: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”  (Col.3:13) 

 

Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation.  We can forgive the person for the offense that was done against us even if we don’t reconcile.  We can forgive even when the other person is still angry with us.  Forgiveness requires no relationship.  It is a decision to release the offender – Let it go and give it up.–  let God deal with him/her.  But reconciliation requires a relationship where both people agree to be open and friendly toward one another.  So reconciliation requires two people and forgiveness only requires one person – you.  Forgiveness is a gift to the one who has broken trust.  But reconciliation is a restored relationship based on restored trust.

 

 God commands us, His children to forgive those who sin against us. (even when we don’t want to)  It is God’s place to deal with the sin that others commit against us – not our place.  God calls us as His children to give up our right to revenge and to pray for the offender: to be children of light.  To walk in humility and love.  Others will know we are Christians by our love. (John 13:35)  

 

A judgmental and legalistic spirit has no place in the lives of God’s children.  When I see groups today constantly criticizing and hating and spreading vicious anger on and on and never forgiving and then all in the name of Christianity I wonder where they are coming from and which god they are following!  Will anyone come to Christ if these people who are so filled with hate are representing Him? 

 

Instead of demanding that others meet our needs for love and significance and security we need to learn how to lean on the Lord to meet our needs for love as well as our needs for everything else.  Over and over in Scripture God expresses His wish to be loved by His children.  The first commandment reads: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind.”  (Exodus 20:3)  And God’s love for us, His children, is more than we can ever imagine.  We need to bask in His unconditional love for us.  And when we feel marginalized and un-loved by friends or family we can build ourselves up in God’s love.  He is always there for us making us strong. 

 

Here are several Scripture verses declaring God’s love for us, His children.  Let’s repeat them over to ourselves and make them our own.  Love God with all you have and receive God’s love for yourself personally.  “I have loved you with an everlasting love: I have drawn you with loving kindness.”  (Jeremiah 31:3)  “The Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the person who trusts in Him... I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever…The Lord’s love is with those who fear Him (revere Him)” (Psalm 32:10,89:1:103:17)   “How great is the love You have lavished on me that I should be called a child of God.”  (1 John 3:1) 

 

And also: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come.  Nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8:L38-39)  And “My God shall supply all of your needs, according to His riches in glory.”  (Philippians 4:19)  “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”  (2 Cor.9:8) 

 

When we read the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9) we see that Jesus teaches us to pray for deliverance from evil.  Part of his prayer is a warning: “Keep us from temptation and deliver us from evil” He prays. (Matthew 6:13)  When we refuse to let go of our anger we are playing with evil. We need to be on guard against this temptation.

 

 When we are wronged by others, we can be tempted to stay angry for a long time.  But when we hold onto anger and refuse to forgive we develop a bitter spirit.  We can ask God for help in obeying His command and forgiving the person or people who have sinned against us and He will answer that prayer.

 

When we surround ourselves with the knowledge of God’s love then we are able with God’s help to endure the slings and slights and hurts that will come our way in this life. Only God can meet all of our inner needs for love, significance and security.  We need to cling to Him.  Scripture says: “The Lord is with me: I will not be afraid of what people can do to me!”  (Psalm 118:6) 

 

Some of the Scriptures and ideas in this blog were taken from the booklet “Anger, Facing the Fire Within” by June Hunt