Tuesday, January 24, 2012

LORD - I desire for a life lived in your truth and presence, not to have "MY" life and you also, as one of the accouterments of my life. 

Matthew 9:13 Jesus,  speaking to the Pharisees, said:
"... I desire mercy, not sacrifice...." 

Christ lived Mercy and sacrifice, as well as all purity and righteousness.  He didn't seek to buddy up with the self satisfied, successful  "winners" of life.  Those with power or wealth to make him look good.  Not that Christ was not there for even those, but he was there for them in their need.  He didn't have a need to look good. 

Christ didn't seek the soft, easy, self absorbed life, giving God a tithe of his life  . 

He was and is  Mercy, a true and living sacrifice. 

Sacrifice can be a token repentance. Easy, only requiring perhaps a bit of money, or a little bit of humility.  But, certainly something that doesn't look odd or require anymore than an outward action.  Certainly not costing one, ones whole life.  This kind of sacrifice is  quick and does not discommoding ones life.  A sacrifice that is meant to look good more than address the sin.  This was never Christ's type of sacrifice. 
And Mercy - this requires giving all of me.  It requires an inner, life changing redemption of who and what I am. A giving of myself away - not just to God, but to those He brings into my life.  Oh my LORD, I can easily have mercy in my heart and attitude, but it's so hard to act out mercy.  Without you it is impossible. And with you, it is still true sacrifice. 

As I remember the mercy I have received, I give thanks.  I also pray Lord, for strength and obedience  to make true sacrifices of mercy outward.  Without you I cannot do this.  Thank you that what you ask of us, you also make a way to walk in your will, purpose and mercy.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Seek ye first the Kingdom of God

31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:31-33 KJV)

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God”

My question is: HOW?
How do I seek the kingdom of God?

It seemed to me that the answer would lie in the body of Christ’s words to those present that day - now called the "Sermon on the Mount”

It says be:
Mend broken relations

Even when it is the other person having the problem with you.

Don’t stand on your rights;

"I did it my way" mentality, or "It's my right".

Make your righteousness not an outward form, but an inward belief;

(I've often heard,  "thinking something is not sin, but only if you do it." But my own experience has been that sin’s outworking is rooted in giving the thought house room.)

Be radical in dealing with our own personal sin;

Don’t swear oaths;

If the intention is true a yes or no will do.

Relinquish my right to self defence;

And the hardest of all is this one.  My first response to perceived personal attacks is "You cannot do that to/treat me that way.  I'll teach you not to mess with me."

It seems it is personal retaliation that is the subject here. Resisting others seeking to impose their will on me. It deals I think with our self esteem.

I don’t think this is about defending the life of another or stopping a thief. This sermon was at a time when Israel was subject to Rome.  Apparently the Roman soldiers felt free to demand the people they were ruling over to carry their stuff or give them their property.

Love your enemies;

This is as simple as loving people of opposing beliefs, secular or religious. Also, those who personally treat you without proper respect, who denigrate your person. Corrie ten Boom’s story is a remarkable example of this love.

Let your gifts, good works, and prayer be private;

Don’t seek man’s honor for your actions.  I think this was one of the first and strongest lessons received from my own father.  Even so, it's easy to not remember.

Trust God’s provision;

It’s not that we don’t work, but we need to remember that all we are and have is a gift from God, our brains, our health,our job, our skills and gifts.   The very food we eat and the air we breathe. And when one area is blocked, say in health, job or failing mind, one can still trust God for provision. Be aware, and give thanks for blessings - and when there are hard parts, thank God. He is in that too.  We are not ever alone when He is our Saviour.

Make ones treasures eternal, not temporal;

That is, don’t depend on earthly treasure for security. God may bless us with earthly goods, but it is not our security.  In other words, don’t be possessed by your possessions.

God knows our needs and can bring about their fulfillment.

Judge not;

Ouch! Don’t ascribe motives to actions of others. You are merely revealing your own heart. It shows what your motivation would be, not theirs.

Don’t throw pearls before swine;

I see this as arguing ones doctrines and beliefs in a secular ‘court’. If asked about your religion speak of Christ and what he has done. If they press you about a specific beliefs, say abortion, adultery, divorce, alternate lifestyles, creation vs. evolution, I would say the only answer would be those things are not what is important. Christ and His gift of salvation is what is the center of my life.  When we open the door of our life to his knock, he will make sure to teach us his way.

I have particularly failed in this area but the truth is God is our life and our salvation and he will, with others, as with us, bring those who love him to know his heart, mind and will for us.

His love and patience is amazing, but for all my life, since I open my heart to him as Lord and Saviour, it's like there is a string from my heart to his.  In all my failure and sin, there is ever that gentle tug for my attention to his love and grace.

This is not all God has for us to learn about seeking the Kingdom of God.  It's only a start to open our minds and hearts to all He has for us.

He tell us in Matt 7: 7 to Ask, to Seek and To knock. He says if we Ask it will be given, if we seek it will be found, if we knock it will be opened - This is the core of finding the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

It will not be a cake walk. Our lives will be filled with choices; God’s way being the harder choice or acting on our old nature. But in going God's way, we are walking in the Kingdom of God.

God’s way will build our house on solid rock.