Digging in Deeper: Mark 14:55

“The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they could not find any.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Every now and then we learn of the simultaneously joyous and heartbreaking story of a man being released from prison after spending decades locked up for a crime he did not commit. Each one of these instances – far, far too many borne on the backs of black men who were unjustly locked up by a system laden with subtle racism that has proven far more difficult for our culture to eradicate than we once thought – is a tragedy. Innocent people being made to suffer unjustly is an outrage to all clear-thinking citizens of any nation. And the greater the suffering of the innocent, the more it should enrage those who learn of it. It certainly does our God who is fundamentally just in the core of His character. This is what makes the death of Jesus of Nazareth so scandalous. Have you thought of it in those terms before? We celebrate it because of what it accomplished for us, but this morning let’s pause a moment to remember that it also represented the absolute pinnacle of injustice.

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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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Playing Fair

As we continued in our series, Telling Our Story, yesterday morning, we ran into an uncomfortable truth. Sometimes life is unfair. Sometimes it is unfair and sometimes it seems like God doesn’t do anything to fix that. We see this in the story of Stephen, one of the original deacons appointed by the church and who was having a powerful ministry until the unfairness of life struck him down. This isn’t an easy conversation to have, but it’s one we must have. Let’s do it together.

Playing Fair

This past February some of our brothers and sisters were gathered for worship in the tiny African nation of Burkina Faso. The landlocked country is about the size of the state of Nevada. It is also home to an active and ongoing attempt by Muslim radicals linked to the Islamic State to gain control of the nation in order to enforce their will on it. The believers worshiped that morning like they had done so for years and years together. This particular morning, however, their praise was interrupted by shouts and gunfire. Terrorists burst into the sanctuary with guns blazing. Twenty-four worshipers were murdered in cold blood including the church’s pastor. A dozen more were injured in the gunfire and many more still were kidnapped.

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What I’ve Learned…

A little something different for you this morning. Yesterday’s post was the final post from one of the Minor Prophets for a little while. I have finally made it through all twelve of them. When I first started this journey last August with this post, I knew that I want to spend some time reading them closely because I hadn’t before. I figured it would take a few weeks at best. Here we are almost exactly a year later. For me it has been an enriching one and I hope that’s the case for you too. This morning I wanted to reflect with you for just a couple of minutes on what I have learned from it all.

Continue reading “What I’ve Learned…”

Digging in Deeper: Malachi 3:5

“‘I will come to you in judgment, and I will be ready to witness against sorcerers and adulterers; against those who swear falsely; against those who oppress the hired worker, the widow, and the fatherless; and against those who deny justice to the resident alien. They do not fear me,’ says the Lord of Armies.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What kinds of things beat near to the heart of God? That’s a much bigger question than it might sound at first hearing. At least, it’s a much bigger question if it matters to you at all to care about the same kinds of things God cares about. It is certainly a subject that has been the focus of much tension in the church over the years. Whole religious movements within the church have been built around one person or another’s idea of what matters most to God. Well, while that question doesn’t have anything like a quick, easy answer, verses like this one in Malachi give us a pretty good clue of at least one thing that really matters to Him.

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