Thursday, May 7, 2009

Let It Go

Matthew 6:12, 14-15
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
"For if you forgive men their trespasses,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men their trespasses,
neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

When my grandchildren were babies, they went through the same developmental stages as most, where they practiced their motor skills. Somewhere after the first four months or so, my youngest grandchild's favorite activity was honing his fine motor skills by grasping a desired object and then hurling it over the side of his high chair or crib. He seemed to have great fun releasing everything from a cup of juice, to toys, clothing, food etc., and letting it go. It was something profound to him in the release, although it was not as much fun to parents, sissy or Nana after the first twenty retrievals. Countless times we picked up, much to his delight. The more we picked up the cast away item, the more encouraged he was to laughingly toss it away. Getting rid of as many objects as possible, before those slated for pick-up stopped playing the game, seemed to be the idea. How could letting go be so edifying, so soul satisfying?

In the model prayer found in Matthew, Jesus tells us to forgive the people who have hurt or offended us; to share in the joy of letting go. Can you imagine letting someone off the hook upon which we have them ensnared? Yet, that is exactly what forgiveness is. It is to give up the desire to punish someone, to pardon for wrongs done, to cancel a debt owed.

I can almost hear a chorus of voices saying, "But you don't know what they did to me. I am not going to let them get away with that!" But perhaps these considerations may be helpful as you decide whether or not to forgive. Forgiveness does not mean that you were not really wounded. It does not mean that you lost and they won. It does not mean that you are weak. In fact, it takes more moral strength to let go of bitterness than to hold on. It does not mean that they were somehow right to do what they did and you were wrong to feel pain or anger. Forgiveness doesn't mean that you will get instant amnesia and forget everything that happened or that you will immediately feel better.

But, a wise friend once told me that "acid corrodes the vessel that houses it", and more likely than not, your unforgiving spirit hurts you more than it hurts them. In some cases, the person is not even aware that you have been distant or resentful because of them. They may have just thought that you had a nasty disposition. Little did they know that you could turn your sunny personality on for others and off for them. They may not have known that you were hurt and may not have cared. Meanwhile, unforgiveness was causing you to lose sleep, get migraines, and develop digestive issues. It may have colored your relationships with others, as the darkness reserved for the offender spilled over onto everyone and everything else in its path. Unforgiveness steals joy,and peace. It interferes with our growth and maturity. Nothing good comes from holding on to the toxic waste of unforgiveness.

Now I know that most have struggled with feelings of unforgiveness at some time or another. I realize that some of you may have been through some heavy and outrageous things at the hands of others. For you it may have been abuse, slander, betrayal by friends, or discrimination by your school or employer. For others it may have been abandonment by a parent or spouse. In some counties war loosed enemies who thought it not wrong to physically torture. The list of wicked, unkind acts goes on and on. I believe that you may have suffered much and I wish that it had not happened.

Yet, I hear the voice of Jesus saying forgive your debtors-forgive those who have trespassed against you. This passage reminds us that we are forgiven and we are to forgive others. In fact, "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." While we were still offensive to the Father, He sent a remedy for our condition. He sent His Son, Our Lord, to endure betrayal, desertion by friends, public humiliation and death by torture. He did it for us, in spite of us. He forgave us and let us go...debt cancelled.

Jesus tells us, essentially, that if we think forgiveness is a great idea for anyone (us), then it is a great idea for everyone (those who offend us). In fact verses 14 and 15 tell us that our relationship with the Father is impacted by our unwillingness to forgive.

Paul echoes Jesus later in Ephesians 4:31-32 saying, "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."

Perhaps you'll join me in this prayer, "Lord help me to forgive the one who hurt me. (You insert their name.)I am so grateful that You are so full of grace and mercy in your dealings toward me. Help me, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to pass that mercy on to others. Lord, release me from pain, hurt and disappointment as I now refuse to hold on to anger. Fill me with the joy that only comes as I forgive and let go.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Give us Bread

Give us this day our daily bread. Matthew 6:11

I have always loved the smell of freshly baked bread. As a child, we would often drive by the large bakery in town and smell the mouth-watering aroma. It reminded us of the festive holiday times of sitting around the table with family and friends when fresh bread was always a part of the feast. Though I may make do now with loaves from the store for sandwiches, I still want fresh bread for the holidays.

In Bible times, bread was a staple of life.It was usually made of ground meal from wheat or barley, mixed with water, salt and sometimes yeast and oil. It was baked on hot rocks, on griddles and in clay or iron ovens. It was made or bought daily.

Bread played a part in the religious understanding of the people, as well. During the wilderness experience, after God had delivered the Hebrew children from bondage in Egypt, God sent bread from heaven to feed them. This was in response to the complaints of the people who said that they would rather still be in slavery where there was always enough bread and meat than to starve out in the wilderness. God answered their ungrateful grumbling by sending something they had never seen before, manna. This was a sign of His mercy, bread that tasted like wafers of honey.

God taught many lessons with the bread from heaven and gave regulations for its gathering and usage. They were taught to look for this blessing daily and for 40 years God never failed to keep His promise to feed them. They were taught to refrain from greed, because they could only collect enough for their family to eat for one day. They were taught to obey God and depend on Him because if they tried to hoard the manna and leave it til morning, it would turn to worms. They were taught to remember the Sabbath because on the sixth day they collected enough for two days and rested on the seventh day and the manna did not develop worms.

Bread was sent to test the people to see if they would obey God. It showed them that God responded to their cries to Him. It was a sign of His presence, power and providence as they trusted Him for 40 years.

Jesus used the symbol of bread as a reminder to trust God for the basics of life in the model prayer taught in the Sermon on the Mount. The disciples were taught to ask, "Give us this day our daily bread."

In John 6, Jesus made this lesson come alive by feeding 5000 men, plus women and children. You may remember that a multitude had followed Him after seeing Him do miracles of healing. As the day waned on, the disciples needed to figure out a way to feed the crowd. The disciples reasoned that they did not have enough money to do this. Andrew, at least,told the Master of a boy in the crowd who had five barley loaves and two small fish. But Jesus,knowing all the time what He would do, had the disciples to sit the people down. He broke the bread and blessed it and had it distributed. Not only was the multitude fed enough but there were twelve baskets of fragments left over. When the people saw this miracle they learned what a little bit in the hands of God could do and some believed that He was the Prophet who came into the world.

On the next day the multitude gathered again, perhaps more for fish sandwiches than to worship the Messiah and learn of Him. John 6:27 tells us that Jesus told them, "Do not labor for food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him." Then the people asked for a sign so they could believe in Him- reminding Him that Moses gave the people bread in the wilderness during his day. Jesus let them know that God sent the bread then and even now was sending true bread from heaven. "For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." Then they said to Him "Lord, give us this bread always". And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst."

Before His crucifixion, Jesus gave bread to His followers to remind them of His body broken for them. It was a reminder of His saving act on the cross, His resurrection and our sure hope in His return.

When we pray, "Give us this day our daily bread", we are asking for a mouthful. We are asking that God hear our cries and respond. We are expressing trust that He will take care of our daily physical needs in our utter dependence on Him. But we are also asking that He will take care of our daily spiritual needs for we have a relationship with Jesus, the life-giving, life- sustaining, Bread of Life.

"Lord, give us this bread, always." Thank you, for being the God who provides, nourishes and sustains.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thy Kingdom Come

Matthew 6:10
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.

What a wonderful prayer and yet how much do we mean it? In this short verse we are acknowledging that God is king and rules in His kingdom. This means He is Sovereign and is in control. There is no higher authority. He made us and has the right to tell us how to operate in relation to His world and to Him. Psalm 24 makes this clear: The earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters. Our Great God is King and He reigns. His kingdom is the whole realm of His authority. It is not just localized to a geographical location.

Jesus continually preached the kingdom of God saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." Mark 1:15. In other words the kingdom of God is God's ruling. Jesus called people to enter the kingdom and submit to God's Lordship. Jesus taught that the kingdom may not impress many at first glance, but it is something incredible,like a bush large enough to shelter all of God's creatures. Mark 4:30-32

The disciples asked when Jesus would establish His kingdom and were told that only the Father knows that. Yet, we can see that God has reigned in the past. "For the Lord Most High is awesome; He is a Great King over all the earth." Psalm 47:2 He reigned in Jesus' time. "The kingdom of God is at hand." Mark 1:15 In fact, the people declared Him king on Palm Sunday when He triumphantly entered Jerusalem. Jesus established His kingship during His sacrificial death and resurrection. He is Sovereign now although satan's influence on the hearts of man keep it from being seen perfectly. His kingdom will come in perfection upon Jesus' Second Coming. At that time, not only will people acknowledge Jesus in their hearts but His kingdom will be visible and will endure forever. At this time the Father will exalt Christ to the highest place of honor and authority. "Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:9-11 Past, present and future, God's kingdom is not bound by the constraints of time.

Matthew 6:10 says, Lord, extend your reign over our lives. Help us to do everything we can to please you. Help us to joyfully do all that you command. Let your will be done in every aspect of our lives. Let us so live that others are drawn to accept your will for their lives, also. Let Jesus come in power and perfection so that He reigns completely on earth right NOW as He does in heaven.

All those who accept Jesus accept an invitation to enter into the kingdom. We can rejoice that He reigns over our lives, "...for the kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Romans 14:17

Reign on, King Jesus!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

When You Pray

Matthew 6:5-9
"And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name."

Jesus began to equip His disciples for true power and deepened relationship by teaching them to pray. They had seen, by example, that He was quick and faithful to protect His quiet time, and they saw the life that resulted from talking regularly with His Heavenly Father.

Jesus began by telling them that their prayer was to be different from what they may have heard before. It was to be for the right reasons. It was not to be like the hypocrites who prayed to be seen by man. It was not a show. It was not just an obligation. It was a conversation with their Father and when they talked to Him, they were to do it privately. They were to be alone so as not to be distracted. They were to really focus on Him and learn to cherish their time with a loving Father.

They were not to use vain repetitions. God was not impressed with how many words they used or how "flowery" the prayer sounded. If they really thought about it, prayer was not to tell God what they wanted because He is omniscient. He knows everything. No, prayer is an opportunity to come close to the Father, to share burdens, to praise His name, to thank Him. It is a demonstration of how utterly dependent we are on Him. It is an opportunity to slow down and sense His presence; to enjoy both Him and the life He has created for us. It is an opportunity to hear from Him because prayer is a dialogue.

Jesus told His disciples that when they prayed, they were to acknowledge the hearer of their prayer. They were to call Him Father. Think of what is rolled into that name. A good Father is gracious and kind. He takes care of His children. He is wise and gives good guidance. He protects. He is forgiving. We need never doubt that our Father loves us or is working out good things for us. A good Father is always there. This is who we address in prayer; this Wonderful Heavenly Father who is ready to listen and able to help us.

Jesus says that the Father's name is hallowed. It is holy and worthy of reverence. It is not to be taken lightly or used in vain. Through His name He reveals Himself to us.

Spending time with the Father keeps Him at the the center of your life. If you do not a quiet time, begin today. If you keep this appointment, you will be blessed in many ways. Make a quiet time a priority of your day. Use your Bible for guidance. Pray in response to the Scripture you read. Focus on the person you are meeting rather than just on the ritual of praying, and seek to glorify your Father who is in heaven.

"Lord, teach us to pray. Help us to love and honor You and Your blessed name. Speak to us as we come to you for everything."

Friday, March 20, 2009

Caution: Beware Your Own Motives

Matthew 6:1-4
Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
Therefore, when you do your charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.
That your charitable deed may be in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will, Himself, reward you openly. NKJV

I enjoy a good movie or a theatrical production. I can "lose myself" in the story line when really good actors and actresses exercise their craft skillfully. I have cried with Miss Celie, in "The Color Purple", as life handed her blow after blow. I empathized with the woman in "Diary of a Mad Housewife" when she discovered her husband's infidelity. I have gone to the movies to see Malcolm X and then been distraught when assassins "killed" Denzel Washington, who played the main part. (Not really. Denzel is still alive and well and most handsome. He was just acting like he was dead.)I have gone to Passion plays at Easter and been convicted as I watched how my sin and your sin hung Jesus on a cross. I tell you I love a good production.

But Matthew 6 lets us know that in the Theater of Real Life, God is the audience and we are the performers, and He does not appreciate us wearing a mask. He does not applaud when we engage in pretense and hypocrisy and admonishes us to keep it real.

In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us not to do our charitable deeds in order to be seen by men. Do not be like the hypocrites who sound a trumpet to call attention to their deeds by blowing a loud trumpet. Those who do good works or give alms to the poor in order to gain the praise of man will have no reward from their Father who is in heaven.

In Bible times, the hypocrite was a person who read a script. They often wore a mask equipped to amplify their voice. In the New Testament, the word is often used to talk of a person who is playing a role. They exhibited piety and external righteousness,of a sort,in public, but they were insincere.

Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisee for being hypocrites and He knew their motives for giving, praying, fasting and doing good deeds was often polluted by a desire to receive the approval of men. They wanted to seem to be better than they were and better than everybody else. They did the right things for the wrong reasons and later Paul, in 2Timothy 3:5 describes this kind of behavior as "having a form of godliness, but without power". From such people we are told to stay away.

In Matthew 23, Jesus goes on to pronounce devastation and ruin on the Pharisees. On the one hand they went around giving long drawn out public prayers, while at the same time, devoured widows. In other words, they were exploiting the helpless at the same time they were trying to look like the were super holy. (v.14)

Matthew 23:15 goes on to say to the Pharisees, "Woe to you" for you travel land and sea seeking to win converts to your religion only to turn them into bigger devils than yourself.

Verse 25 tells us that the hypocrites sanctimoniously cleaned the outside of dishes and cups as part of their religious rituals, but inside their own hearts they were full of extortion and self indulgence. Verse 27 tells us they looked like beautiful whitewashed tombs on the outside but were really full of dead men's bones and uncleanness. "Even so, (said Jesus), you outwardly appear righteous to men but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."

Hypocrisy is the same sin that made Paul rebuke Peter in Galatians 2:11. For at one time as he evangelized, he broke bread with the Gentiles, but when his friends came from Jerusalem, he pretended he did not know them and would not eat with them.

Hypocrisy is the same thing that got Ananias and Sapphira in trouble in Acts 5, for when they saw Barnabas sell his property and lay the proceeds at the feet of the apostles to be used for the common good of the Christian community, they pretended to do the same. However, in reality, they sold their land and kept back a portion for themselves. Peter accused them of lying not only to man but to the Holy Spirit. Upon hearing this, Ananias was convicted and died. Young men came in, carried him away and buried him. Three hours later, Sapphira came in with the same story and had the same tragic results and the undertakers buried her beside her husband.

God wants us to be real. He wants us to do the things we do, not to win the approval of men, but to please God. He sees our hearts and despite our best pretenses, our All-knowing God is not fooled by our external acts of false piety and he will not reward them. He wants us to be as truthful and faithful as He is. When He makes a promise it will be performed. When He does a compassionate act, it comes from His loving character and proceeds out of who He is. There is no pretense in God. He is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.
Therefore, 1 Peter 2:1 reminds us to lay aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy and all evil speaking. How can the world be won if our witness is corrupt and how can we influence others for Christ if we are not who we say we are? Be careful. your motives are showing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Love Your Enemies

Matthew 5:43-45
"You have heard that it was said,'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be the sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust."

It was a Sunday morning like many other Sundays in this small Illinois town, and yet everything was about to change for one church. Pastor Fred Winters was delivering a message when a man walked down the aisle. Perhaps thinking that this man was so excited that he couldn't wait for the invitation, Pastor Fred extended his hand and asked, "May I help you, brother?" The man opened fire and killed him as the stunned congregation looked on. Eventually, he was subdued and order of sorts was restored.

I couldn't help but think of this as a backdrop for Jesus' lesson. He said, "You have heard it said to love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I your enemies."

Every natural fiber cries out, "What Jesus? Are you kidding? You can't be serious!" How can I love the one who means me harm; the one who has caused such immeasurable distress and heartache? You don't mean love that one who betrayed my trust; abused that child? Lord, I love you, but surely I don't have to still love that one who persecuted me because of the color of my skin or my family of origin.

"This is unbelievable!" we shout. Certainly if anybody has a "free to hate" pass it should be me in my circumstance or this church whose pastor was taking care of your business. Surely the family of such a good man, father, pastor and community leader can be exempt from the "love clause".

Yet, as we look at Pastor Winter's church in interview after interview, we see a determination to forgive the shooter and pray for his family. The widow exhorted everyone not to focus on Fred, for that would have disappointed him, but rather to forgive and to heal and to go on.

How extraordinary this sounds to our ears and how revolutionary was this idea to the disciples of Jesus. For centuries they had been under the foot of Rome. They had prayed for relief and God had promised to send a deliverer. They had visions of the Messiah coming and turning society upside down with them on top and the oppressor vanquished. They had hopes that Jesus was this Messiah and yet here He was saying, "Love your enemies."

What was Jesus' rationale for such a bold statement? Because, if they loved like that, they would look like their Father in heaven who was so full of grace and mercy that He sent rain on the just and unjust. He allowed His sun to shine on everyone regardless of their behavior. His love was not meted out by the merit of the one loved but came out of His divine nature. (He is love.)

Those who love the Lord are told to love like the One who gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes on Him will not perish but have everlasting life. This kind of love is sacrificial and unmerited. Furthermore, we are told that "...while we were still enemies, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8b While our sin was still abhorrent to God; while we were still messy people without hope and without strength to change, Christ gave His best for us.

He, who knew no sin, became sin (everything despicable to the Father) for us and paid a sin debt that we could never repay. He did this so that we no longer remained enemies but became the children of God.

Jesus continued His teaching by saying, "Be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." The only way this perfect, "enemy loving" "hatred destroying",love is possible, is by receiving the love of Jesus, then and having it poured into us by His Spirit. In our own strength, we have no inclination to love those who are hurting us. In fact, we usually, can not. But with the help of God, we see that love is not just a warm, fuzzy feeling. It is a decision to love "on purpose" like God, our example. It is to be concerned about the welfare of another, to the point, that we are moved to do something about it. This kind of love renounces retaliation, knowing that "Vengeance is mine" saith the Lord. This love prays for the enemy and expects God to change not only the hated one, but to change our own hearts. This kind of love prays that the person will be delivered, healed, and transformed and not obliterated and utterly destroyed. This love cries out to God acknowledging that we haven't loved like He has loved us and asks for help to do so.

Love your enemies! How mind-blowing and yet how like our LORD. What about you? Do you bless those who curse you and do good to those who spitefully use you? If not, won't you join me as I also petition for help for us to be perfected in our loving?

Lord God, how far we fall short of your glory. How grateful we are that you love us so wonderfully in spite of our transgressions against you. Lord, we confess that there are those who have harmed us, offended us, and betrayed us that we still haven't completely released. Help us to harbor no grudges. Help us to know that just blocking out what the enemy did is not the same as forgiving them. Forgive us when we don't wish our enemy well and when we haven't actively prayed for him/her. Perfect our love, through Christ Jesus, so that we really reflect your love to a watching world...for you have said they will know we are Christians by our love. In Jesus' name we ask these things. Amen.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What Did He Say?

Matthew 5:21-22
"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder,' and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgement'. "But I say to you that whoever is angry at his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. "But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire."
Matthew 5:27-28
"You have heard it said to those of old , 'You shall not commit adultery.' "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
Matthew 5:31-32
"Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' "But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery."

A major part of Jesus' ministry on earth was teaching and preaching the good news of the kingdom of heaven. Crowds gathered to hear this simple carpenter expound the gospels with authority. His teaching was unlike the scribes and somehow interpreted God's intentions more clearly to their hearts.

Jesus had explained that He did not come to destroy the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfill them. In fact, He warned of the dangers of breaking the Law and teaching others to do so; for one who did so, would be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.

Often He would begin His teaching by saying, "You have heard..but I say to you..." and often what followed that simple formula rocked their world. In essence, He said I know you know not to murder, but did you know that God is not pleased with your excessive anger and contemptuous speech? Did you know that God is not happy with your prideful disregard for others? Were you aware that God is looking,even, as you bring your gifts to the altar when you have a breech with a brother or sister? He taught that God expects His children to go and reconcile with their brother or sister and then come back and fellowship with Him. He went on to teach that it was best to quickly agree with your adversary.

Jesus went on to say that He knew that Moses had allowed divorce because of the hardness of their hearts, but that was not God's original intention for man. God wanted marriage to be a monogamous, lifelong union of intimacy that remained unbroken.(Matthew 5:31-32)

Jesus knew that they had heard that adultery was wrong, but Jesus said that not only was the sexual act of unfaithfulness to the marriage covenant wrong, but to even lust after a woman, who was not your own wife, was an act of adultery of the heart.(Matthew 5:27-30)

Jesus taught in Matthew 5:33-37 that he knew that they had been taught not to swear falsely, but that an honest person ought not to have to make an oath at all, in order to be believed . Their word should be so binding and their integrity so well known that if they said something, people knew that it was the truth.

Jesus went on to say that they had heard that "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" was acceptable but that they should not seek revenge but rather seek peace, even if they had to humble themselves before their adversary. He let them know that an eye for an eye was a concession to keep them from killing someone for an infraction; it was a way to constrain their blood lust. However, God's way was different.

Every time Jesus taught, He showed the intentions of God. He helped them to see that God was not just concerned with an outward appearance of piety, but that He was interested in their motives and the intentions of their hearts. God wanted them to live by the Law of Love and so live out the Law of Moses.

As the crowds listened, I am sure that they were made aware of how far short they fell of pleasing God and how utterly incapable they were of living at this high standard without the help of God. I would like to think, that they, like you and I, begin to realize their need for a Savior and to believe in Jesus Christ and His teachings of the Kingdom of heaven.

Jesus' teachings of the kingdom of heaven are in radical opposition to the ways of the world and we are no less astounded when we hear Him say, "I know you heard that...,but I say..." For whenever we truly hear the voice of the Lord, we are made aware of our shortcomings and of His perfection. Whenever we truly hear what God intends for our lives and compare it to our finite wisdom and understanding of how to live for Him, we are brought to a place of gratitude that Jesus loves us, in spite of us, and that He died to forgive us of our sin. Thank God for His infinite patience and faithfulness towards us. Praise the Lord, that Jesus fulfills the Law and that in Him we are complete. He says follow Him. What do you say?