Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jesus first

"Another of Jesus' disciples said to him, 'Lord, first let me go and bury my father.' But Jesus said to him, 'Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.' "--Matthew 8.21-22
This saying is right up there with Jesus' saying, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14.26)
What in the world is Jesus saying? Does he really want us to neglect, even hate our families? How does this instruction reconcile with "honor your father and mother" and "love your neighbor?"
I don't think Jesus is saying we should hate or neglect our families. But what he is saying is that he comes first. FIRST. Even our families can become an idol. I'll give you a simple example. When our family goes on vacation, I am tempted to skip my morning devotional time. The beach calls every morning when we are on vacation. Fishing calls every morning. Surfing calls every morning. So, it would be easy for me to say to the Lord, "I just can't talk this morning, Lord, I'm with my family!" And if I did, I would be wrong. Jesus would be first in my life, even above family, or he would be nothing. (Remember that Jesus said, he despised the luke-warm Christian). One simple sacrifice I can make is to assure that I talk to the Lord and read my Bible every morning, even when I'm on vacation. Just a simple example.
Now, for some people, they may be tempted to neglect their family in the name of spending time with Jesus. That is not what I am advocating. But simply keeping first things first: Jesus first, then family. In fact, I have found that the more I keep Jesus first, the better husband, father, and son I am. It's one of the ironies of the Christian faith: spend adequate time with Jesus and you'll be able to be more present with those you love when you're with them.
Is Jesus first in your life today? Or is someone else?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bad news-Good News

"But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me."--Micah 7:7
Just before this verse, Micah, a great prophet of the Old Testament, laments:
"What misery is mine! I am like one who gathers summer fruit at the gleaning of the vineyard; there is no cluster of grapes to eat, none of the early figs that I crave. The godly have been swept from the land; not one upright man remains. All people lie in wait to shed blood; each hunts their brother and sister with a net. Both hands are skilled in doing evil; the ruler demands gifts, the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what they desire-- they all conspire together. The best of them is like a brier, the most upright worse than a thorn hedge. The day of your watchmen has come, the day God visits you. Now is the time of their confusion. Do not trust a neighbor; put no confidence in a friend. Even with the one who lies in your embrace be careful of your words. For a son dishonors his father, a daughter rises up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law-- one's enemies are the members of his own household."
Wow! It sounds like Micah is describing the headline news report from this morning! But the key thing I want to focus on today is his response to all the disturbing news of his day: "But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me."
We can become so overwhelmed by bad news in these times, that we feel tempted to just give up. But remember to "watch in hope for the Lord." Remember that "God is your savior and He will hear you."
A wise preacher once said, "Don't ever read the newspaper or watch or listen to the news (which is almost always bad news) until you have read the Good News (the Bible)!" Great advice for us all. Why not try that today? Instead of spending so much time listening to the (bad) news, why not dive into the Good News of God's Word! I promise you'll feel better for it!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

no judgment

"Therefore, let us stop passing judgment on one another."--Romans 14.13
I don't know about you, but I often find myself making judgments about everything. I judge the new pair of shoes I just bought. I judge how my favorite baseball team is playing. I judge how that hamburger tastes that I just cooked on the grill. We all make judgments every day. Making judgments about things is part of life. The problem comes when we feel tempted to judge other people.
We live in a society that is full of judgment. Turn on the t.v. or scan your latest news on the internet and you will surely find some serious judgment about people. You will even find Christians, who claim they believe in God's grace and forgiveness, judging each other. It is human nature to make judgments on one another. But it is also NOT part of God's plans for us as new creations in Christ.
In his letter to the ancient Roman church, the Apostle Paul (a leader in the early Church), simply commands "let us stop passing judgment on one another." The only way this is possible is to walk with Christ daily, to die to the sinful self, and let Christ's Spirit of love and forgiveness work through us. In Christ, there's no room for judging each other. Who have you felt tempted to judge recently? Why not confess this to Jesus and ask for His Spirit of non-judgment to take the place of judgment?