Practical Proverbial, from 2 Timothy, 13 May 2019

Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.  2 Timothy 2:23-24 (NIV).

Let it be.   That was the subject of a recent devotion my wife and I did.   Now, you know I’ve confessed to arguing over dumb things on Facebook.   Most of them are political, and it’s unlikely that neither my opponents nor I will be changing our views.   Except for letting allies know they aren’t alone, such arguments are foolish, stupid, unproductive.   Yet I continue to make them, though less and less.   Perhaps I’m beginning to see the wisdom of Paul’s command in these verses.

Mainly I don’t want to be a quarrelsome servant of the Lord.   I don’t resent the people with whom I disagree, but I do understand that such long-term useless quarrels do eventually morph into resentment.   How do we stand up for good things in which we believe without becoming insulting or hurtful?   After all, it isn’t wrong to stand up against someone who hates Jews or minorities or gays or others, but it becomes wrong if, in standing up, we become insulting or depart from the truth into mere opinion.   It isn’t wrong to stand up against the senseless violence political street factions have recently caused, but it becomes wrong if we let it evolve our opposition into desires for counter-violence or retribution.

In other words, things become wrong when we depart from God’s peace.   God desires for us to live peaceful lives, sharing and growing peace in Him, which is the only real peace there is.  Giving us His peace is central to Christ’s salvation.   If not to share God’s true presence with us, Christ came for this reason.   Only through Him can we find the peace that lasts, both here and in eternity.   It is only through modeling His behavior that we can spread peace.

Sometimes that means standing up in silence; sometimes it means standing as the angry, righteous Jesus against true wrongdoing.   Sometimes we have to flee.  We must do our parts to vanquish the wrongdoing but then also extend Christ’s peace to the wrongdoers, lest we become them ourselves.

So perhaps the best thing to do with most of our political, cultural, and even moral rot is to let it be.   It isn’t that these things are unimportant.   It IS that God Almighty is much stronger than they are.   He knows what He’s doing and He gave us the mission to spread His peace and love to others who don’t know about it.   He can handle the rest.  When the opportunity to argue arises, instead, let it be.

For further reading:  1 Timothy 3:2-3, 2 Timothy 2:25.

Good Lord, forgive me for how I have failed to sow peace.   Forgive me for when I’ve shared in stupid quarrels.   Only You can restore me and instill real peace.

Advertisements

Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 27 March 2015

King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.” Others said, “He is Elijah.” And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.” But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!” Mark 6, verses 14-16.

Folks believe some really crazy stuff.   Have you ever considered that maybe some of it is real?

Consider these statements:   alar on apples will poison you.   Elvis eats lunch at a Burger King in Kalamazoo. A black man will never be elected president. If you play the Beatles’ White Album backwards, you hear messages from Satan. You can’t grow wine in Texas.

Which of those are true and which of them are flat out crazy? Truth is that all of them have been considered to be true by rational people not unlike ourselves. Some of those statements were true at one time but untrue now; some are just dumb or wacky (Elvis actually eats at KFC…).   Folks believe some crazy stuff.

So is it implausible that there’s this Jewish king named Herod who executes this great prophet (named John the Baptist) and there are those who are saying John has come back from death?   Put yourself in Herod’s shoes:   do you believe it or not?   Fact is, Herod didn’t really know what to believe.   Mark’s Gospel hasn’t gotten that far yet into describing Herod’s story; don’t worry, we’ll get there soon.

But poor Herod didn’t know what to believe.   He had John killed and now there are reliable sources – knowledgable people in whom Herod places his trust – who are telling him that John is back and bolder than ever.   You and I know now that it was Jesus about whom these folks were talking, but poor Herod didn’t know any better.

When you don’t know any better, you can believe in some really crazy stuff.   As we’ll see in the coming days, Herod was pretty nervous that his sins would come back to haunt him.   What he didn’t realize was how crazy things would soon get and how haunted he might become because of it.   Like I said, he didn’t know any better and the talk was just plain crazy.

So here’s a prayer to rock your world:   I pray you don’t know any better.   After all, it’s plum crazy to believe that there is this two thousand year old man named Jesus who said (and proved) that He was (and is) God.   The government of his day (including Herod) had him murdered because He was a threat to their status quo.   Two nights plus later this same Jesus comes back to life…and it turns out that He had promised to do exactly that.   What’s more, this Jesus spends the next few fortnights meeting hundreds, maybe thousands, of people all of whom will swear that He’s alive and well…just like He said He would be.

Folks believe some crazy stuff.   My hope for you is that you go a little crazy like that today.   Stretch your belief and believe in something your brain tells you must be impossible. Now go have an apple, listen to some old Elvis music (or even the White Album, but forward please), and enjoy a glass of Texas wine this weekend.

Lord, help me to be crazy for You.

Read Mark 6, verses 14-29.

Daily Proverbial, from James, 18 November 2013

But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.  James 3, verse 14

This sucks to hear.  It’s convicting, don’t you think?  I mean, I could forgive anything except that one time my ex did me wrong.   That really hurt.  Then there is the fact that I’m really good at what I do and, if I play my cards right, there’s no telling where this whole thing could take me.  And I am all for Christian living, following Jesus, and all that stuff but you just don’t understand all the pressure I’m under, right? 

Do I need to go on?   The Beatles said ‘let it be.’   The better advice is ‘let it go.’

You see, even though yesterday was such a busy day, it was only one short day ago that we were talking about how follow through matters; about how it matters what we do when we do it for Christ.  If, in all I do for Christ, I do these things while holding on to envy, malice, grudges, unchecked ambition, greed and the like, I’m missing the point of Christ.  There is no room for envy or ambition in Jesus.  There’s no room for these things because He never demonstrated them.  He didn’t do all He did out of pride:   He lived in service to the Father.

Go ye therefore and do the same.   Go now, Dave, and do the same. 

That’s really convicting because it calls me up short, making me realize that, even while I’m doing good things, I sometimes don’t keep my eye on the ball.   Being smoke-free, alcohol –free, drug-free, or any other kind of ism-free is nothing if I’m holding on to those ism’s that dragged me down in the first place.  It does no good to lie to myself about it, thinking my sins aren’t as bad as, say, yours, or that person’s over there.  Their sins are bad enough to condemn them to hell.   So are mine, and I’m stuck with them, and I live with the guilt of them, and the damnation from them.  No way out.

Jesus sets us free by giving us the ability to change.   He changes us by giving us the freedom to let go of the ism’s, the burdens, the grudges, or anything that tripped us up in our past.   Sure, He doesn’t always remove us from the consequences of our choices.   Yet we don’t need to live with ‘it’ hanging around our necks anymore.  ‘It’ doesn’t need to define us, even as the world defines us.   When Jesus changes us, HE is who defines us.   Everything else takes on a new look.  The guilt goes to glory.

The convicted is set free.

Tell me, my friend, do you want to live forever?   You know how.   Let it go

Lord, I’m convicted by your hard but loving words.   Change my heart, then help me change my life.

 

Do you want to live forever?

What things are you holding on to?

What is keeping you from embracing Jesus?