When God Roars Like a Lion

 

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Hosea 11:1-11
Psalm 107:1-9, 43
Colossians 3:1-11
Luke 12:13-21

 

 

Will they not return to Egypt
and will not Assyria rule over them
because they refuse to repent?
A sword will flash in their cities;
it will devour their false prophets
and put an end to their plans
NIV

So much has been made of the wrath of God, that he is so upset with our sins that he seeks to destroy every last atom of our being; yet Hosea tells us of a God who will not give up; who reminds us that His people may be taken into slavery in Assyria and Babylon, but He still loves us and has not abandoned us.

If the Chosen People had remained faithful to Him, they would have been protected from the invasions of foreign armies. If we remain faithful to Him, we will receive the promise of the New Life.

So, what is required of us? Nothing.

Well, not quite nothing. We have to say, “Yes.” The only sin that cannot be forgiven is the sin of not saying, “Yes.”

But if we turn to God, we also turn to His lifestyle. Why did Paul warn us to have nothing to do with sexual immorality, dirty-mindedness, uncontrolled passion, evil desire, and the lust for other people’s goodsPhillips Why did he say, No more evil temper or furious rage: no more evil thoughts or words about others, no more evil thoughts or words about God, and no more filthy conversation?  Phillips

Simply because these are not things of God, but rather of the Father of Lies. All of these things hurt other people. God does not choose to hurt people. As Hosea reminds us, it is people who hurt people. God allows it, but He does not want it.

There is no one way for we individuals to work on these sins because we each come from different experiences. What is easy for you to avoid is nearly impossible for me. No person should judge me for my failings (except within the legal system). God alone Judges and Jesus is there to help Him.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Children of the Living God

 

 (c) Can Stock Photo

(c) Can Stock Photo

Hosea 1:2-10
Psalm 85
Colossians 2:6-15, (16-19)
Luke 11:1-13

 

 

God said: I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel; I will no longer show love to Israel; you are not my people, and I am not your God. NIV

Harsh words. Hard words to associate with a kind and loving God. These are the types of passages which give rise to hellfire preaching.

But we take that route at our peril. God is so loving that he gave us the power to make decisions and has allowed us to suffer from those decisions. Instead of saying to king Jehu, “Don’t worry about that mistake, I’ll make it disappear;” God said, “You must accept your punishment, you and your whole nation whom you have led away from Me.”

We are fond of saying that all our sins will be washed away in the blood of Jesus, but are confused when we suffer. “But God, I accepted Christ, why do I have to have cancer?” There is no free pass in this world. We all suffer because of our collective sins.

Still, we do not even have to move on to the New Testament to see the power of God at work. After saying, I am not your God, He says, Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ NIV

Because God had a plan, one He put into action even before He created the universe. He and His Son talked about what to do when sin wrecked the beautiful creation of God. The Son said, ‘let me stand on the judgement platform in the place of those who will let me do it.’ What a plan. You would think the perfect God could come up with something a little less extreme.

But it is what Jesus told us. So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be openedNIV

Of course, when he says, ask and you will receive, he did not mean winning the Publisher’s House drawing. He did not mean an instant cure of a dread disease. Everyone who asks to live in and with Jesus receives. Nothing else really matters.

 In Christ, you were circumcised, not by any physical act, but by being set free from the sins of the flesh by virtue of Christ’s circumcision. You, so to speak, shared in that, just as in baptism you shared in his death, and in him are sharing the miracle of rising again to new life—and all this because you have faith in the tremendous power of God, who raised Christ from the deadPhillips

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Mary Sat at the Lord’s Feet

 

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Amos 8:1-12
Psalm 52
Colossians 1:15-28
Luke 10:38-42

 

We have it wrong, at least too often. Hearing the Word of God can happen in the pew on Sunday morning, but it is generally spoken on Monday morning at work. Why else would God accuse us of cheating, lying, stealing, and trying to become wealthy?

You measure the grain in a small eifah,
but the silver in heavy shekels,
fixing the scales, so that you can cheat,

buying the needy for money
and the poor for a pair of shoes,
and sweeping up the refuse of the wheat to sell!
 CJB

Yes, we are involved in all that and more. We buy clothes made in sweat shops around the world and say that the small wages the workers get is more than they would have had otherwise. Two dollars a day is twice as much as the dollar a day they were making. Then we say, “You can’t expect me to live on $55,000 ($150/day).

When there is an earthquake or hurricane, what do we do to help? We clean out our closets of the unwanted clothes and sent winter coats to Honduras or canned pigs feet to Turkey. I personally saw the dregs of hospital storage rooms shipped to Haiti in 2010; numerous broken tools, a laser scalpel worth a million, but missing the scalpel, and, oh yes, sent to a country with only a few hours of electricity.

Why are we so unwilling to send what is really needed: money to buy food, water, and medical supplies close to the site to reduce shipping costs?

Because our leftovers are good enough for “those” people.

Martha saw the work that needed doing and she went at it. But she was upset that her sister did not help. Notice that Jesus did not criticize Martha, except to say that Mary made the better choice. There is nothing wrong with taking care of your guests, but Jesus reminds us to do it with God in our hearts. Martha, my dear, you are worried and bothered about providing so many thingsPhillips

God was in the house. The Word of God was filling the room. Come, sit, listen.

Most of us are Marthas. We have things to do. Yes, they are of some importance. I like to eat. But compared to the Word of God?

What about that Monday morning? The Word comes when someone comes to me to buy what I am selling. The Word is: sell for the lowest price possible. When I have to serve that grumpy man every Monday, I don’t spit in his coffee, but serve it with a smile.

Do you want to be the Word or ignore the Word?

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

The New Plumb Line

 

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Amos 7:7-17
Psalm 82
Colossians 1:1-14
Luke 10:25-37

 

Last week we found that being a Christian means becoming a New Being. Today, we learn that being a New Being requires that we measure up to the New Plumb Line.

In construction, even the ancients understood that a building that is not in line with the forces of gravity will soon fall. They began using a plumb bob, as we call it, to make sure their vertical structures were straight up and down. The other great invention was using a cup of water on horizontal stone or wood to see if it was level. With those two tools, they were ready to build the pyramids.

God gave to Amos the unenviable task of telling the people of Israel, and the king in person, that they would suffer greatly. Why? Because they did not measure up to the plumb line. They chose to ignore God and had to pay the price.

When an expert in the scriptures questioned Jesus, the Son of Man pulled out his plumb bob. The expert agreed that he was to love his neighbor but wanted to know if that applied only to the people across the street, in his block, his town, or what. Jesus told the story of the Samaritan and concluded by saying, there is your plumb line.

Two thousand years later, we are still trying to limit our neighbors to those we like. Surely, Jesus did not mean a terrorist bomber is our neighbor?

An interesting study was done in Great Britain recently. About thirty or so volunteers were invited to have their DNA analyzed. As a part of the process, each person spoke before the test about the groups of people they most disliked or even hated. When the results were shared, many of them contained a high percentage of DNA in common with the very people they professed not to like.

In the opening of his letter to Colossae, Paul wrote, For we have heard of your trust in the Messiah Yeshua and of the love you have for all God’s people. Both spring from the confident hope that you will receive what is stored up for you in heaven. You heard of this earlier in the message about the truth. This Good News has made its presence felt among you, just as it is also being fruitful and multiplying throughout the world in the same way as it has among you since the day you heard and understood the grace of God as it really isCJB

Those faithful followers lived their lives straight and level, as measured by God.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence