Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tearing out our eyeballs

Galatians 4:15: “What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me.”

I was reading in Galatians 4 when verse 15 jumped out and grabbed me. Paul asks “what has happened to all your joy?” Let’s be frank, how many joyous Christians do you meet? Yet, Paul asks the question implying we must be joyous.

Paul is writing the Galatians in a “pretty stiff” tone. Galatians 4: 20: “How I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!” Why the need for such a ‘harsh’ letter as it was? The reason wass the Galatians were turning back to old Jewish customs and legalism. Paul called them “weak and miserable principles.” The Galatians had given up freedom in Christ for old legalism and ritual. They were spiritual slaves; forgetting what they once knew and forgetting who they once were.

Paul asks them what has happened to all their joy. In Galatians 4:15 he goes on to say to them (in my paraphrase) “There was a time you would have ripped out your eyeballs for me and the truth; now you are upset because I have come to you in this letter to confront you of your spiritual bondage. Why are you bucky with me when I bring you the truth?”

Where is their joy? They are joyless because they have become legalists. The Christian faith for them has become a list of do’s and don’ts. Their life is a routine; it is weak and miserable. Their joy is gone because they live passionless, selfish lives. Paul says there was a day when you were zealous. You were willing to live a sacrificial life (the willing to rip out your eyeballs thing). (“It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you.” Galatians 4:18).

If you want joy, trade in your legalistic, ritualistic life for one of passion and zeal; living sacrificially for God and others!

The key to joy is this—do you live life for something bigger than yourself? Are you willing to lay down your agenda for the cause of Christ and others?

Do you want joy? What does the Lord require of you? “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8.

Let’s go out and live this life with sacrifice and passion. Let’s be zealous for good and let’s walk humbly with our God. Let’s live to His glory, not ours.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

“…because it is in their power to do it.”

Micah 2:1: "Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds! At morning's light they carry it out because it is in their power to do it.”

I heard the story of a mother and daughter shopping at a mall at Christmas time. They were having difficulty finding a parking place in the crowded parking lot parking; parking places always seemed to be at a premium. When they finished shopping, they would put their bags in the car, hop in, and put the transmission in reverse so the back-up lights would come on. Immediately, cars would stop and wait for them to exit. They purposely would not back out; they just sat there until all the cars went past. They thought it was funny!

How mean! Why would someone go out of their way to make one more small irritation in the life of someone else? “Because they can:" it is in their power to do it.

What do we do to purposely aggravate each other in coy ways? We might think others don’t see, they may not, but God does. He knows our hearts and our minds.

Why do we do it? Because we are held captive by the stain of sin.

Come to Jesus and be free of this sin stained bitterness and resentment. Do good rather than be a coy, deceptive irritator. As one who knows, you’ll sleep better at night.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Keeping Our Vows

Since Jerry is on vacation, we are going back into the archives for the Blog this week.  We selected this one as the husband referred to here passed away recently.  We dedicate it to his faithful wife and the memory of her husband.

It was the first snow in the area last Sunday morning; roads were icy. Attendance was down at the church where I preached. An interesting fact: we had four people in wheel chairs in attendance. Of all the people, these people or their caregivers responded most to my message.

I spoke from Psalm 112:7, He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” We talked about trials and tribulations and God’s sovereign rule. We discussed how we do not like God’s sovereign hand sometimes; we also talked about (Psalm 73:16, 17, 21-22) how when we try to understand God’s plan, it can be oppressive, sometimes making us bitter and angry towards God.

A woman stood next to the handicap elevator; she stood behind her husband’s wheelchair. He has a brain tumor; and depending on the day, one day interacting and communicating, the next day, totally silent. It was a silent day. She is in her 60’s, still beautiful with a pretty smile. She graduated from high school with my brother. I remembered her and her husband; rock-solid farming stock; Dutch; resolute; determined.

She shared with me her everyday battle. She was not complaining in the least bit but I believe she needed to talk. And oh, did she teach me something!

Her social worker encouraged her to put Bill in the nursing home so she could rest and “do what she wanted to do.” She told me she got angry and told the social worker, “Forty five years ago, at the altar where we married, I committed myself to him and God. I promised I would be there in sickness and health and I intend to carry that out now, out to the end, Good Lord willing.” As she told me this, tears rolled down her face.

Her life is not easy. On certain days she feels so alone, tired, hopeless, and frustrated but she loves her man and she intends to keep her promise no matter what!
Last Sunday, I humbly stood in the presence of a true hero. A faithful wife, mother, caregiver and Christian woman who is willingly sacrificing her self for the love of her husband—a Christ-like example in these times. We prayed and tears rolled down my face.