Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘priorities’

Who’s more to be pitied?

You may know the story of Jesus casting demons out of a violent demon-possessed man, which then entered into a herd of pigs that rushed headlong into the sea and perished. (Luke 8:26-39) I got a new perspective on this story on Sunday morning from our pastor.

Who do you think had the bigger problem—the demonized man or the townspeople?  Consider for a minute:

–Who sat and listened to Jesus (after sanity returned)?
And who were afraid when they saw the man sitting there, clothed and   sane (more so than when he was insane)?

–Who begged to go with Jesus?
And who begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone?

–Who went joyfully to spread the news about what Jesus had done?
And who were more concerned for their pigs more than the plight of a tormented soul or the presence of the Savior among them?

Where do you and I see ourselves in this picture?

 

 

 

 

One Thing

“If you could take only one thing with you…”
“You have to choose one thing from this menu…”
“Your favorite food, your favorite song, your favorite Bible verse…” 

I have lots of them!!!  I hate making choices like that. Just like I could never say which of my children or grandchildren is my favorite.

Recently, however, I’ve become aware of a small set of verses in the Bible that point to “one thing” which has to be priority for God’s people.  And though they come from such diverse writers, they all converge:

David:  The one thing I ask of the LORD—
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
delighting in the LORD’s perfections
and meditating in his Temple. (Psalm 27:4 NLT)

Paul:  I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 3:13-14)

Jesus (to a rich man inquiring what it would cost him to follow Jesus): “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”             (Mark 10:21)

Jesus (to Martha, busy in the kitchen while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, drinking in every word he said):  But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”  (Luke 10:41-42)

In all of these instances, everyday priorities—
     sins and successes,
     pride and achievements,
     possessions and cares of life–
drop by the wayside as that one thing comes into focus and defines who we are       and why we exist: 
     to know God,
     to worship God,
     to serve and please God
     to enjoy God’s best delights he reserves for his children!

———————————-

I Want to Know Christ (Listen to Larnelle Harris)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJW8D_22FlE

I know that I know that my life is redeemed
I know I have found what some only have dreamed
I hold in my heart the pearl of great price
Dear God, hear my cry
I want to know Christ

Chorus:
I want to know Christ
I keep Him before me
I lift up my eyes
I drink in His glory
I press toward the goal
His goodness unfolds
March on, oh my soul
I want to know
I want to know Christ

I know that my path is the way of the cross
So I count what I gain and forget what I’ve lost
In pain there is joy
In death there is life
Dear God, hear my cry
I want to know Christ

And the things that entangle me
I lay them down
All the treasures and trophies of life
Let them be lost
Only let me be found in Christ
For I want to know
Yes I want to know Christ

Sacrifice

“Sacrifice” is a word often used nowadays to speak of giving up something for a greater cause.  Examples would be military heroes who gave up their lives or health for the sake of their country, or people who give up some financial or lifestyle advantage for the sake of what they see as higher priority.

“Sacrifice” in the Bible always refers to gifts given to God, or to false gods, in worship.  In Old Testament times, people would bring an animal to God to be slaughtered and often burned entirely.  Grain offerings would accompany these gifts.  But these were external acts that could be done regardless of one’s attitude toward God.  Often, via the His prophets, God insisted that he doesn’t want people’s sacrifices of cattle, sheep, grain, etc. so much as he desires their obedience…

Since Jesus has come and has become the ultimate and final sacrifice to put us right with God (Hebrews 9:26), we might think that sacrifice is a thing of the past.  And so it is, if we’re speaking of the kind of sacrifices described above.  However, the following “sacrifices” are listed in the New Testament as appropriate and necessary gifts to God from His people:

Our bodies 
       …present your bodies as a sacrifice – alive, holy, and pleasing to God – which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1 NET)  Contrary to public opinion, my body is not my own!  (See also 1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Our faithful service to God 
      But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. (Philippians 2:17 NLT)

Our support of those who are spreading God’s message
     …the gifts you sent…are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. (Philippians 4:18 NIV)

Praise to God 
     …let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. (Hebrews 13:15 NLT)

Doing good and sharing with others 
     And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God. (Hebrews 13:16 NLT)

Pigs or people?

It’s another normal day.  The field work, the children, the cooking, laundry, watching the pigs…  oh yes, and the local madman living in the cemetery just  outside town.  They’ve tried to tie him up but it was no use, so they just avoid him and hope he leaves them alone.  (Story from Mark 5:1-20)

Then comes Jesus and invades their day.  Upsets their world.  What did He do?  He, who had the power & authority to liberate this human being from the demons that had reduced him to a beastly existence, took pity on him and did just that. 

I don’t know why Jesus allowed the demons to invade the herd of pigs and drive them to drown themselves in the lake.  But obviously, His priority was the life and sanity of one man, much more precious than a herd of pigs. 

Normally, when Jesus did a miracle, the people who witnessed it were thrilled.  Not so this time.  When the townspeople came out to see what had happened, this was their reaction:

–They were afraid. (Mark 5:16)  Why?  Of having their world upset?  (Surely not afraid of a man who was no longer violent…)

–They begged Jesus to leave them!  They preferred the company of pigs and madmen.

Which do you and I prefer today? 

–Life as usual, economic security, tolerance of evil as long as it stays in its place?

           OR

–Jesus sweeping in with His pity and power, bringing freedom for the hurting and oppressed?

Portraits of Integrity—or otherwise

Looking for a good definition of integrity in an effort to define it for my granddaughter sent me to the dictionaries.  Here’s what I came up with as a summary: 

Having strong moral principles (such as honesty) and refusing to change, doing the same as what you say.

A few recent news items strikingly illustrate the presence or lack of integrity in some public figures:

1. “If our faith costs us a television show then so be it.”  David & Jason Benham, whose show was cancelled when it was discovered that they are pro-life and support marriage between one man and one woman.

——-

2.  Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana:  Inevitably during these interviews they say something like this – “you are a smart guy, we know you went to Brown and were a Rhodes Scholar, so tell me, how is it that you call yourself pro-life, and you say that you oppose gay marriage, and you say that you oppose gun control? You just say that stuff to get elected in the Deep South right?”

So of course, l liked to have a little fun with it, so I would lean over the desk, and in hushed tones, pretending to confide in him or her, I would say – well…just between us, do me a favor, go tell your editors the bad news, tell them that I absolutely believe everything I say. As you can imagine, those interviews ended rather abruptly.

——

3.  Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, in a conversation with blogger Bryan Kemper:

He talked about how important the human trafficking issue is to him and how he has vowed to fight it….Then I asked him a single question: how do you vote on pro-life issues? He smiled and said he voted on the opposite side as me.

I first asked him how he could justify saying that he wants to protect young children from being trafficked but then vote to allow killing them in their mother’s womb…He tried to say he was just being wise because he knows how liberal politics are in Illinois and he needed to keep his seat…So I asked him if keeping that seat was more important to him than doing what is right? I asked if he would be willing to lose it if he could end child trafficking and he said no.

——

My pastor said this morning as part of his sermon on powerlessness:  “People addicted to power have already lost their integrity.”

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold
I’d rather be His than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands
I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hands

Than to be a king of a best domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus
Than anything this world affords today

I’d rather have Jesus than worldly applause
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame
Yes, I’d rather be true to His holy name

Than to be a king of a best domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus
Than anything this world affords today
Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/george-beverly-shea/i-d-rather-have-jesus-lyrics/#2qCQ8AXlFiT8iR0m.99

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold
I’d rather be His than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands
I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hands

Than to be a king of a best domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus
Than anything this world affords today

I’d rather have Jesus than worldly applause
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame
Yes, I’d rather be true to His holy name

Than to be a king of a best domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus
Than anything this world affords today
Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/george-beverly-shea/i-d-rather-have-jesus-lyrics/#2qCQ8AXlFiT8iR0m.99

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold
I’d rather be His than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands
I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hands

   Than to be a king of a vast domain
   Or be held in sin’s dread sway
   I’d rather have Jesus
   Than anything this world affords today

I’d rather have Jesus than worldly applause
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame
Yes, I’d rather be true to His holy name

By George Beverly Shea, Rhea Miller

Hear it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u62uYEssk7o

10 Commandments for Christ’s Ambassadors

As Jesus sent out his disciples on their first mission trip—to preach, heal, and cast out demons—He gave them these instructions.  But they are also for us today who represent Him to the world.  (See Matthew 10)

1.  Give and serve freely. (v. 8)

2.  Trust God for your needs. (v. 9-10)

3.  Focus on those who will listen. (v. 11-14)

4.  Be prepared to suffer. (v. 16-28)

5.  Trust the Holy Spirit for what to say when put on the spot. (v. 19)

6.  Don’t give up!  Endure to the end! (v. 22)

7.  Don’t be afraid. (v. 26-31)

8.  Never deny the Lord.  (v. 32-33)

9.  Prioritize God over your own family and even your own life. (v. 34-39)

10. Humbly accept what people give you as a gift to God. (v. 40-42)

Getting Tired of God?

Malachi (the last book of the Old Testament) was addressed to people who were getting tired of God.  Let’s try on their shoes and if they fit us today:

1.  We have not recognized how much God loves us.  (1:1-5)  This is foundational. All those that follow hinge on this one.

2.  We have disrespected the Lord by failing to give Him our BEST.  (1:6-14)

3.  We have not carefully and faithfully passed on God’s instruction to those we are responsible for (e.g. our children).  (2:1-9)

4.  We have not kept our commitments to God, to our marriage partners, and to others. (2:1-16)

5.  We say that evil is good and that God is pleased with evildoers (e.g. praying God’s blessing on abortionists) .  (2:17) 

6.  We don’t really trust God to provide for us if we give first to Him—so we don’t. (3:7-12) 

7.  We devalue serving God and instead prioritize our own desires and applaud those who prosper in their godless lifestyles  (3:13-15)

In the end, however, God says that everyone will see the difference between those who serve Him and those who do not:

–For those who rebel against God:  “The LORD Almighty says, “The day is coming when all proud and evil people will burn like straw. On that day they will burn up, and there will be nothing left of them.” (4:1 TEV)

–For those who love and obey God:  “But for you who obey me, my saving power will rise on you like the sun and bring healing like the sun’s rays. You will be as free and happy as calves let out of a stall.  On the day when I act, you will overcome the wicked, and they will be like dust under your feet.” (4:2-4 TEV)

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