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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Morning Musing: Zechariah 12:2-3

“Look, I will make Jerusalem a cup that causes staggering for the peoples who surround the city. The siege against Jerusalem will also involve Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who try to lift it will injure themselves severely when all the nations of the earth gather against her.”‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter)

I want you to imagine something for me for a minute. Imagine that you are part of a people who have known persecution. No, that doesn’t mean you haven’t been able to get a good parking spot at the mall in ages. It means that you have been regularly and intentionally made the victim of injustice and prejudice for a long period of time. Victimhood is part of your psyche in a way people who don’t think through a lens of persecution can’t understand. It was taught to you by your parents—even if unintentionally—and you have taught it to your own children because your people are victims so often that you simply assume you’ll be a victim at some point even if it hasn’t happened yet. Got it in your mind? Depending on the color of your skin or the country in which you were born that may not take much work to imagine. Now, here’s my question: What is it that you want? Zechariah here gives us one answer.

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