Friday, July 27, 2012

The Compassion of the Lord

Today's Reading:
  • Luke 7:11 - 7:35
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Luke 7:11 - 7:35
Today's passages started out with a bang.  It's funny how often that happens when we are reading about the amazing life of Jesus!  We are told that Jesus was walking along when he intercepted a funeral procession for the only son of a widow.  This widow was very distraught, for her livelihood was now at stake. 

Verses 7:13 - 15 says that the heart of Jesus overflowed with compassion for the woman and so he raised the son from the dead.  That act alone is an amazing miracle, but it's not what I want to focus on.  The words that caught my attention were "overflowing compassion."

How wonderful is it that our Lord -- the creator of billions of people -- can have compassion in His heart for all of us?  That is especially awe inspiring when you think of how often we refuse to have compassion for others, even those that we love.  Yet the Lord has compassion for all of us,even though we don't deserve it.

The reading goes on to talk about how the Pharisees had rejected Jesus because he didn't act in the manner they thought he should.  They apparently thought that in order to be the Messiah, that Jesus had to act like a king -- wear fancy clothes, dine with the best of the society and religious leaders, live in a palace -- mainly, they wanted Jesus to direct all of his attention on them -- and they wanted him to do so in splendor. 

I am so thankful that our Lord does not act like society.  Our Lord is forgiving, yet our society is condemning.  Our Lord is gracious, yet society is selfish.  Our Lord is filled with compassion, yet society has a cold heart.  Our Lord is filled with love for all, yet as a society we tear each other apart. 

Thank you Lord for being a friend of sinners.  For loving us even when we fall short.  For forgiving us of all the horrid things we do.  For sending Jesus Christ to bridge the gap between your holiness and our sinfulness.  Thank you, Lord for being forever gracious to us.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

How Does One Become Righteous?

Today's Reading:
  • Deuteronomy 5:1 - 6:25
  • Proverbs 11:29 - 31
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Deuteronomy 5:1 - 6:25
I loved these two chapters in Deuteronomy.  These chapters both sum up the commandments and tell us why we should obey them.  These chapters also sum up the events surrounding the issuance of the commandments.  I have a feeling I'm going to really like Deuteronomy for the way it summarizes Israel's journey in a more conversational tone.

There were two sets of verses that most caught my attention today.  The first is 6:5 - 7:
5  You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength
6  And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.
7  Repeat them again and again to your children.  Talk about them when you are home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.  
 I was thrilled when I read verse 6:5 -- to love the Lord God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength -- because it is such a famous verse, and one I love dearly.  And unlike some of my other favorite verses (like John 3:16), I didn't know where this verse was in the bible.  Such a lovely verse to live by!

Verses 6 and 7 struck me differently.  Here we are told to wholeheartedly give ourselves to the commands, as well as teach them to our children every chance we get.  When I read this it made me wonder how often do I wholeheartedly give in to the Lord's commands?  It seems that I give away to failure too easily.  And don't get me wrong, I'm not talking just about the Big Ten -- but I'm talking about all the ways that we are supposed to live according to Jesus Christ. 

The verse about teaching the children made me pause.  I take my children to church each Sunday and they enjoy going and learning.  I ask them about the things they learned, and I offer them children's bible study packages to complete for "bible bucks".  But what I don't do very often is discuss with them the way that the Lord wants us to live.  I realize now that I need to make an effort to teach this to my children so that they are equipped to handle all of life's situations with grace.

The second set of verses that caught my attention are verses 6:24 - 25:
24  And the Lord our God commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear him so he can continue to bless us and preserve our lives, as he has done to this day.
25  For we will be counted as righteous when we obey all the commands the Lord our God has given us.
 We aren't being told that we need to obey arbitrary commands because the Lord wants us to lead lives that are less fun.  No, we're being told that these commands preserve our lives and that the Lord blesses those who follow his commands. 

I especially like verse 25, because I have seen many references to the righteous and the godly vs. the wicked and those who don't obey.  But this is the first place (that I recall) where we are told how to be righteous.  And it is summed up very nicely, isn't it?  To be righteous, to carry all the blessings and protection of the righteous, one must simply follow the Lord's commands.  That's it.

Proverbs 11:29 - 31
29  Those who bring trouble on their families inherit the wind.  The fool will be a servant to the wise.
30  The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life; a wise person wins friends.
31  If the righteous are rewarded here on earth, what will happen to wicked sinners?
I love how the word "righteous" is used in these verses, after I just wrote about the meaning of the word.  I suppose that if the righteous (those who follow the Lord's commands, as noted above) are rewarded on the earth, so must the wicked be punished on earth.  I know that is not always the case, or that might not seem to be the case from what we see, but I'm really not concerned about the punishment of the wicked.  It will come sooner or later.  But I love that the Lord protects and provides for us who trust in Him.