Digging in Deeper: John 15:12-13

“This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Our world is broken. There is darkness everywhere we turn. It manifests itself in many different forms, sometimes masquerading as light, but it is always darkness. As the prophet Jeremiah wrote about 2600 years ago, “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable – who can understand it?” No human culture has ever been exempt from this. If all people were saints there would be no need for laws. But we aren’t. So there is. That’s not the end of the story, though. Having laws in place is meaningless unless people follow them. But we aren’t saints. Thus we are not going to follow laws meant to restrain our behavior unless we are motivated to do so by the threat of a consequence that is more inconvenient to us than our desire to have whatever the law has forbidden. Even these consequences, though, are meaningless unless there are people who are committed to upholding the law and enforcing the consequences for violating it. In other words, we need law enforcement officers. That is, we need police officers. Let’s talk today about what a blessing they are.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 9:38-40

“John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him because he wasn’t following us.’ ‘Don’t stop him,’ said Jesus, ‘because there is no one who will perform a miracle in my name who can soon afterward speak evil of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We are naturally tribal. Our world has always been divided into two groups: Us and them. Now, sure, the exact makeup of those two groups changes. There are all kinds of different “uses” and all kinds of different “thems.” A person might fall into both categories within the same group of people depending on which particular flavor of us and them is being considered at the moment. But while there is all kinds of variety when it comes to exactly who goes in which group and when, the basic dividing line between us and them remains consistent. It is natural. It always has been. When Jesus came and began teaching about the kingdom of God, He didn’t try and tell us to operate differently. Surprised by that? Jesus didn’t try to undo our tribalistic impulse. He simply invited us to think about ourselves as part of a much bigger tribe.

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Digging in Deeper: Matthew 5:38-39

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Do you know what some of the least popular words in the Scriptures are when we have been offended? “‘Vengeance is mine,’ says the Lord.” When we have been offended, we want to deal with it. We want to deal with it because when we deal with it, we know we’ll be satisfied that justice has been pursued to our satisfaction. If we leave it in the hands of anyone else, they might stop short of what we know is right. And yet, if we would claim to be a follower of Jesus, that’s a right we’ve got to give up. Let’s talk about it.

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Digging in Deeper: James 1:19-20

“My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.”‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter)

We could all use just a little bit more listening lately, couldn’t we? And yet, here I am speaking…well, writing anyway. But I tend to write like I talk (as perhaps the audio gives away), so I guess I’m speaking. I’ve actually had the opportunity lately to be a part of a few different conversations on recent events. I’m grateful for that. I’ve learned much and also had reaffirmed some things I thought to be true beforehand. May I share some of that with you?

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God’s Not Done

We are living in a moment of crisis and chaos. It seems in many ways that God has left the scene and we are merely fending for ourselves. This is exactly how it felt in Israel at the end of the season of the Judges. But, as we turn the page on that book and peer into the next–Ruth–we are reminded of an incredibly powerful truth: No matter how dark things may get, God’s still working. Keep reading to see how this incredible reminder unfolds.

God’s Not Done

Alright, I want to start this with a little survey. You can’t participate by a show of hands, but hit your “like” button or post a comment with your answer. Hit your “like” button or comment about it if you have ever had a cold before. Now, I can’t see those from where I’m sitting, but Nate is checking on them and letting me know the entirely expected news that most of you have had colds before. Okay then, next survey question: How many of you have recovered from your cold? Since you’re tuned in this morning or at least haven’t died yet from a cold if you do have one—and that’s one positive thing about this format…you didn’t just out yourself as a germ-factory to a roomful of people who all want to get away from you now—I’m going to go ahead and assume that everyone has answered that question affirmatively. Do you know how that happened? Your immune system kicked into gear and kicked out the cold. That’s a pretty surface-skimming explanation, though. Do you know how your immune system actually works? I know we have a few medical folks watching who know a bit more than the average bear, but that’s admittedly not a question we generally think too much about—the current season being an exception to the rule.

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