Practical Proverbial, from 1 Timothy, 16 January 2019

The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.  1 Timothy 5:4-5 (NIV).

In our world, even one slip-up can be devastating.   It only takes a single one-night-stand to get a disease.   It only takes one rejection to have your hopes and dreams dashed during a vulnerable time.  The world is a tough place and jumping out into it is even tougher.  Keep our eyes on God and not the world around us.  Is this blog-post going to be full of platitudes and bland aphorisms?  No; I don’t like those either beyond them being reminders of truths we need to hear.   Yet there are things in those platitudes that matter because people are in real need all around us.

Losing someone you love is the most devastating thing on earth.  We can deal with almost anything but when the person on whom we rely most is gone, our entire foundation is destroyed.  “I can’t imagine losing your spouse and not having faith.”   My mom said those words to me about a year after my Dad died.  Mom had faith and was still the most independent-minded person I’ve ever known.   And while I don’t think she spent night and day praying and asking God for help, in her own way and time she did those things.   She told me that she prayed and talked with God when she was alone until, one day, she had the thought “Grace, you can do this.”   That was after about six months in the fog of grief.   And, for her, that was the start of getting better, of knowing that God had given her all she needed to keep moving forward in life.   She did for another 16 years.

In Ephesians, Paul reminds us to honor our parents.   That can be extended to assume he’s telling us to honor both our parents and our other forbears and elders.  Then, in Romans, he reminds us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we may know the will of God.  I’ve never been completely alone, even during the times when it felt that way.  And I have dived deep into living for pleasure and gotten out of it worse.  In all these cases, it’s because I didn’t extend honor, either to God or to anyone involved.   I strayed from working to let God renew my heart and mind, and I’m not even a widow.

Imagine how much worse off things could have been if I had just lost my spouse.   In that light, Paul’s exhortations are common-sense Godly advice.

For further reading: Ephesians 6:1-2, Romans 12:2, 1 Peter 3:5, 1 Timothy 5:6.

Lord, help me to give honor to my elders, to live for You in all I do today.

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Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 14 February 2017

 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.  Hebrews 7, verses 23-25.

“Save completely.”   Those are some BOLD words.   Before we move off these verses, let’s explore them a little.

Do you remember “Titanic?”   You know, Kate and Leo in post-pubescent ardor aboard the ocean liner doomed to kiss an iceberg.   Near the end, Kate promises to never let go of Leo (and then she immediately lets go of his frozen dead body).   Then, years later, the older Kate recollects that “he saved me in every way a person can be saved.”   Later that night, she throws the Heart of the Ocean down to the sunken ship and then passes away herself.   Kate thought Leo (actually it was Rose thought Jack) had saved her beyond simply keeping her out of the cold water.  But she was wrong.   Her heart shouldn’t have been in the ocean, or in some cheeky necklace.

And since today is Valentine’s Day, I wonder how many of us look to our significant others to save us when we can’t save ourselves?   A pastor friend of mine today lamented the increasing use of the word “partner” to supplant “spouse, wife or husband” as the dominant word used to describe committed relationships.  I agree with his lament:   “partner” isn’t “spouse, wife or husband.”   “Partner” is a poor substitute for the person ordained by God for you in a covenant relationship with them.

News flash, however:  your partner, or whatever you call them (please don’t say “bae”) can’t save you.   For that matter, neither can your wife or husband, or my pastor friend, or me.   In fact, you can’t save yourself, even, except for one tiny action that makes all the difference in the world.

You can say “I believe in Jesus.”   Sure, add on the rest of the religious language if it makes you happy but you really don’t have to do anything beyond giving your confession.   Jesus has already saved you.   He has already done EVERYTHING needed to save you from the eternal penalty for the things you’ve done to rebel against Him.   He and only He has done this because nobody else could or can.   And He and only He can do it completely.   Jesus doesn’t just pull you out of the freezing North Atlantic after your ship goes down.   Jesus doesn’t just promise to love, honor and cherish you even when you’re ugly crying.   Jesus doesn’t just do whatever you can think up to prove to you that He loves you more than just on February 14th.   Once and literally for all, He made saving us whole, finished, containing all that was needed to make salvation a done deal.  He did it through His heroic death at Calvary.

Jesus completely saves us.   He makes it physically and spiritually impossible for the devil to un-save us.   Sure, said devil can hurt and harm us, but there is nothing he can do to undo what Jesus has already done.   Nothing.   Wrap your noodle around that on this Hallmark holiday.   Your Valentine can’t save you from eternal separation from God because Jesus already did.  A warm fire, great meal, wine and chocolate, flowers and a fancy card are all great things but they don’t do diddly squat in determining who really loves you because Jesus already did that.   There is nothing you need to do and nothing you, me, or anyone else could even do to make that more complete, or more ‘saved’, or more yours because Jesus already did everything that was necessary.

I’ll take that over the Titanic any day.

For further reading:   Romans 11:4, Romans 8:34, Hebrews 13:8.

Lord Jesus, thank You for completely saving me, for loving me so fully that there is nothing I want to or could do to make it any fuller.