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My God is…desiring mercy, not sacrifices Matthew 9:10-13

Matthew 9:10-13 – And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were mercy sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

Jesus is hanging with the “wrong crowd”

In this verse, we meet up with Jesus as He is eating with the tax collectors and sinners. He has just called Matthew to follow Him, and Matthew did. Now the Pharisees were freaking out because of the company Jesus was keeping. They didn’t like the idea that someone who spoke with such authority, who was teaching and leading people would spend His time with people who clearly had not been living well. They thought they should be getting a nod for their good behavior. Hadn’t they always tried to do what is right? Hadn’t they always given what they should to the Lord? Hadn’t they always gone and worshiped when it was required, and even when it wasn’t? Why would Jesus, if He was such an important religious figure hang out with people who were known to rip people off? People who had cheated on their spouses? People who hadn’t made it to the synagogue in quite a while? They asked His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.

What the pharisees didn’t get was that God came to save the lost. He came to help those who are helpless. He came to save the sinner from their sin. That each of us (because we all have fallen short of the Glory of God), each sinner, might be forgiven for their sins, and instead of spending an eternity in hell, we would be forgiven and be able to have everlasting life with Him in Heaven.

Here’s the crux of the problem. The Pharisees didn’t think they needed a savior. They felt they had done enough to secure their fate with God. After all, they had done all that was expected of them. They went to church, gave to the church, supported their family, stayed away from drugs and alcohol, didn’t have wandering eyes. Basically they were stand up guys. They weren’t used to having their self-worth questioned. So what was the problem? What was standing between them and God?

Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’

Jesus quotes His Father (Hosea 6:6). God was telling the people of Judah and Ephraim that He desired mercy, not sacrifice. The people of that time had been constantly distracted from their relationship with God. They were concerned about themselves and nothing else. They ignored the warning signs God had given them through prophets. They ignored God’s wishes. They would attack people, murder and other sins. They completely disregarded God. The pharisees in Jesus day would have known these stories well. They had done a lot of study of the Bible. They were the one’s teaching everyone else what the words of scripture meant. For Jesus to tell them to go and learn what is meant by “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”, means they clearly weren’t demonstrating it’s meaning. The pharisees were concerned with fulfilling the letter of the law, but not the intent behind it. God’s intent was not about the law, but that the people He loved (and loves) would be able to have the best relationship with Him as possible. His laws were intended to keep people safe, point them back to Him and to bless them. They weren’t intended as check boxes to be marked off. They have value, but when they are used to measure one’s salvation, they are misused.

For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners

The truth is we are all sinners. Should we be striving to be more like Christ? Yes, of course. The problem is, many of us think that what we do is what is going to get us into heaven. We think that our good has to outweigh our bad and then we’re set. I have heard many people say, “I’m a good person, I’m sure I’ll get into heaven.” Sadly that’s not going to work. Being a good person is not a requirement. Believing that Jesus died to save us from not being a good person is what is required. Faith in Jesus’ saving grace is the only way to get into heaven. It’s not only unbelievers who cling to this idea, those who profess to believe in Jesus also struggle (just like the pharisees). They are working themselves to death, trying to do the “right thing”. They help at church, give a lot of money to charities, sit on boards they hate, why? Often it’s because they feel it’s their duty. God isn’t interested in our duty. He only wants us to do these good things (very good things) if the reason we’re doing them is because we are so grateful for what He’s done for us. We’re not supposed to do them in some misguided attempt to earn our way to heaven. God has done everything necessary for us to get to heaven. We need only believe in Him and trust that He’s got us covered in His redemptive blood. So don’t worry if you make mistakes. God knows you. Instead of putting your faith in your actions, put your faith in Him.

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Posted by on September 27, 2013 in Matthew, not sacrifices

 

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My God is…Lord Psalm 16:2

Psalm 16:2 – I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;

Excuse me, Your God is Showing.

Excuse me, Your God is Showing.

I have no good apart from you.”

Let’s take a look at the word Lord:

1lord  noun \ˈlȯrd\ definition of LORD

1: one having power and authority over others:

a: a ruler by hereditary right or preeminence to whom service and obedience are due

b: one of whom a fee or estate is held in feudal tenure

c: an owner of land or other real property

d obsolete: the male head of a household

e:husband

f: one that has achieved mastery or that exercises leadership or great power in some area <a drug lord

2 capitalized: god
b: jesus

3: a man of rank or high position: as

a: a feudal tenant whose right or title comes directly from the king

b: a British nobleman: as
(1): baron 2a
(2): a hereditary peer of the rank of marquess, earl, or viscount
(3): the son of a duke or a marquess or the eldest son of an earl
(4): a bishop of the Church of England

c plural capitalized: house of lords

4—used as a British title: as

a —used as part of an official title <Lord Advocate> <LordMayor>

b —used informally in place of the full title for a marquess, earl, or viscount

c —used for a baron

d —used by courtesy before the name and surname of a younger son of a duke or a marquess

5: a person chosen to preside over a festival

One having power and authority over others

My God is Lord, and He has authority over me. He is the great authority. When you think about someone being the authority on a topic, it’s someone who has worked with something a long time or is the creator or that item. God is the authority on you. He created you, He knows you better than you know yourself. But I don’t think that’s the kind of thing it’s talking about here. God has the power and authority to make things happen. He can change things, if it’s His will. He can make things happen. Nothing can become greater than it’s creator, and so it is with God. He created us and is bigger, smarter and more than we’ll ever be. He is outside of all measurement.

A man of rank or high position
God by way of being God is in the ultimate high position. There is none that outrank Him. But sometimes in our lives, we don’t act like He is Lord. That He is the one with authority in our lives or even that we treat Him with honor. We are called to give God glory in all we do, but sometimes our selfish interests get in the way. Maybe we ignore the nudge from God to get up on a Sunday morning and attend worship. Maybe we don’t give the money back when we’re given too much in change. Maybe we focus more on pleasing our spouses or significant others instead of showing God that He is truly in the highest position in our heart. To put this idea in context, I’ve heard people say, “How would you prepare for a visit from the President of the United States?” Even if you don’t like the president in power, most likely you would still show him the respect the position holds, and maybe even be proud he came to see you. Now how do you prepare your heart and home for the One of Highest Position? What efforts do you make in your relationship with the Most Important? I don’t know about you, but it makes me think about some of my choices each day. If I could actually see God as residing in my heart and my home, physically, would I be doing anything differently? I’m guessing I would. Would you?

My Lord, My Master, My Father
How blessed are we that the one who is all-powerful, of the highest rank and position and holds all authority is also the one who adopted me into His family, so that I might benefit from the saving grace of Jesus Christ. I am not a slave, but a child of God, serving not out of duty, but out of love. May we be blessed with continuing faith in the God who is Lord of all.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”

The second half of this verse says it all really. My value, my purpose and my spirit are nothing without the Lord. I am God’s child, and when left to my own devices, I am hopeless. I fail, I’m mean, I sin. With the Lord I am saved, purposeful, blessed, encouraging. When my focus isn’t on God, you can tell. It shows in my actions. I want my God to show. I want God to get the glory in my life. I want it to be obvious that there is something different in my life that gives my life meaning. Maybe next time I see someone doing good, I’ll say, “Your God is showing.”

Is your God showing?
 
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Posted by on February 8, 2013 in My God is Lord, Psalm

 

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My God is…cleansing me 1 John 1:7-10

1 John 1:7-10 – But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the

Are you stinky?

Are you Stinky?

blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Why do you take a shower? 

Truth be told, I’m sitting here, having done Zumba Rush on the Xbox (yes, I actually exercised). I haven’t showered after working out, and I’m sure I don’t smell amazing. I would take a shower before I leave the house, but why? Because I’m dirty. I have to get clean. I can’t get clean by myself (unless I want to go all catlike, but I’m not up for that). I need water and soap to get clean (at least water).

Do you stink? 

My boys are typical teenagers, and sometimes they avoid taking showers. I don’t know for sure what the aversion is, except maybe that it takes time away from other things they would rather be doing. When they ask,  “Do I have to take a shower?” the answer is almost always, “Do you stink?”. Now if you know anything about teenage boys, you probably know that they pretty much always stink unless they’ve just come out of the shower. Of course, that doesn’t stop my boys from saying, “No”.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves

Just like my boys trying to deny that they stink, sometimes we want to deny that we are sinful. We don’t like the idea that we don’t measure up. It’s not a pretty picture. But the truth is they stink, and I’m sinful. I do thinks that are unkind, I am selfish, and I put my want and needs above those of my Lord, My family and all people. It’s all about me. The problem is, no matter how much we deny it, God knows the truth. Just like I know my boys need soap and water to get them clean, God knows we need help getting clean. That’s the whole reason He sent Jesus.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Keeping God as our focus allows us to have true fellowship with each other, just like taking a shower makes it easier for us to not turn people away. Because we put our faith in Jesus, we are cleansed from our sins, able to be part of other relationships, and also get clean in the process. I don’t want to stink when I go out to meet a friend, and to be honest, I don’t want my sins to show either. But even if my sins do show, I can be cleansed, and as far as God is concerned, all my sins have been washed away.

Do you stink?

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2013 in 1 John, My God is cleansing me

 

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My God is…Hated John 15:18-27

John 15:18-27 – 

 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.

Have you ever felt hated? I would guess that most of us have at one point or another felt hated. Most of us have had someone treat us so badly that we cried. They may have even beaten us, swore at us and ruined our self-esteem. Have you ever been hated for your faith? Have you ever had anyone dislike you because of your beliefs. To be honest, I haven’t felt that much. I have mostly surrounded myself with other Christians, not even necessarily by choice, but because of circumstances, my free time has mostly been used up at the church. My family is made up mostly of believers, or at least they’re closely related to believers, so they seem to have a higher tolerance then the rest of the world.

Is this supposed to be comforting?

I have spent most of my life trying to get people to like me. I try to get along with pretty much everyone I meet, and I would even go so far as to say I’m quite tolerant. I don’t want people to hate me. I want people to like me. Jesus saying, “know that it has hated me before it hated you.” doesn’t bring me that much comfort. To be honest, it would be a lot easier for me if people liked Him more too. I don’t want to have debates with people about their faith. I want to be able to enjoy who they are as a person. I want to have them be able to not be offended by my God so we can all “get along”. I wish my beliefs were not offensive, but they are offensive.

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own

So here’s my dilemma – I want to be liked, but if I’m being liked by everyone, does that mean I haven’t been stating my faith clearly enough? Do I have to be confrontational to be clearly Christian? Do I have to make people uncomfortable? I don’t want to. I want to get a long with everyone. I want to be diplomatic and non controversial. I want people to like me. It is more important to me to be true to my Lord. I want to be able to be bold for my faith. I know that’s not going to make some people happy, but I do want to be able to stand up for what I believe.

But because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you

That’s it then, I’m hated. The world hates me. They can’t tolerate my beliefs. They can’t tolerate that I want to serve a Lord who doesn’t let those who don’t believe in Him into heaven. People want to say that God excludes people, but He doesn’t He loves each of us the same. No matter what our background, sin of choice or eye color, Jesus loves them. He laid down His life for everyone. Christianity is actually the most inclusive faith around. Jesus says if you believe in Him you will be saved. That’s it. He sends His Holy Spirit to work faith in our hearts, and if we don’t turn away from Him, denouncing Him, but instead believe what He says is true, you will have eternal life. The world still doesn’t want to hear that God is tolerant. They don’t want to change how they’re living, and when you start to believe in the Lord, He changes your heart. Not always in drastic ways, but change is usually uncomfortable. People don’t like it. They want to continue on the way they have always been with their focus on their own wants, not on what God wants for them. So instead of giving into the change and having the Lord work in their hearts, they reject Him and tell lies about Him.

But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

So as Christians we’re bound to have haters, or at least those who, like me avoid the subject. Sometimes it will be your extended family who will not be open to the changes that are happening in your life. They may not be able to accept your new-found faith. Your life may now make them uncomfortable as they feel the need to make a stand of disbelief. I think most people avoid talking about their spiritual beliefs, because they don’t want to look silly, because they feel they don’t know how to defend their faith, and because others feel conflicted and defensive when the topic arises. People will argue with you, people will want to change your mind and yes people might hate you, but we Christians are not of this world. Heaven is our home. We need to be able to defend our faith and stand up for what we believe. I don’t like that much. I want life to be easy, and I want everyone to like me. But it is more important to me that I stay true to my Lord than have friends here on earth.

Are you hated?

 

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2012 in John, My God is Hated

 

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My God is…Reliable Hebrews 13:8

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 

People Change

Some people claim that people never change. You’ve heard it…”Once a cheater, always a cheater.” I guess that many of our tendencies are genetic, and so some things might be hard to change, but I don’t believe impossible. In fact I think people are changing all the time. We’re growing, growing older and maturing (hopefully). I think that so many moments throughout our lives change us, maybe ever so slightly, but as the build on each other, our thoughts and feelings change.

I used to hate fish, Chinese food and soup.

I hated them. I would swear up and down that they were awful. These foods had no redeeming qualities what-so-ever. I would practically throw a fit if one of these items were placed in front of me for dinner (well beyond the fit throwing ages, too). I believe that I never actually hated these foods, but wanted something else instead. I didn’t want fish, I wanted chicken, and in order to sell that to my mom, I HATED fish. When we went out to eat, my father might ask, Chinese or Mexican, and because I loved Mexican, I had to HATE Chinese food. You get the picture. Imagine to my amazement how surprised I was, in my adulthood, I no longer hated these foods, but actually quite enjoyed them. I had changed.

Every Experience Changes Us

Whether it’s your moms encouraging words, the mean comments from the girls in 7th period or the huge mistake we made at work, things change us. As humans we are pliable. Our feelings and circumstances change how we feel, live, look and behave. Some might say we’re adaptable, others might say we’re unreliable.

Expect the unexpected

Because humans are unreliable, and our feelings change from day-to-day, our lives can feel unstable. Families can feel unstable. Things we think we should be able to count on disappoint us. We get discouraged. Unexpected things happen, and it’s hard for us to adjust. We liked it the way it was. But things change.

Things change, but God doesn’t

A midst our every changing world and circumstances is something we can rely on, God. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. That is why we can trust the promises He made in the Bible, because unlike our spouses and parents, He’s not going to change. He is consistent and reliable. You can put your faith in Him.

What do you put your faith in?

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in Hebrews, My God is Reliable

 

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My God is…the Vine John 15:5

John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

I am the Vine

I am the Vine; you are the branches

Out here in Oregon, there are a lot of vineyards. It makes for some fantastic wines in the area. Quite a few years ago (the 60’s?) someone figured out that the soil in Western Oregon was good for producing Pinot Noir. Since that time this area has been booming with vineyards.

In the verse above, Jesus compares himself to the vine, and us to the branches. If Jesus is the vine, what was His soil? I think it’s God the Father. Jesus was always making sure his behaviors pointed back to the Father, and always wanted to do His will.

Nutrition is important

How do you get your nutrients? The branches on the vine get all the nutrients they need from the vine. When they’re separated from the vine, they wither and die. What you put into yourself is important. What do you nourish yourself with? Maybe you eat really well, and don’t have any of the struggles with weight and eating that I’ve had, but let’s think of a different kind of nourishment. What are you feeding your soul? Do you listen to the lies of the devil as he tells you you’re not worthy of forgiveness. The truth is we’re not. And that’s ok, because Jesus, our Vine, is, and has taken your place so even if we don’t deserve it, we’re given salvation. Why? Because He wants us to have everlasting life with Him. Because of that amazing love He has for us, we’re able to be changed and grow. He provides everything we need to produce fruit. He changes us. He gives us the nutrients that each of us needs individually. He meets our Spiritual needs.

A bit malnourished

This week I’ve been feeling a bit malnourished. I’ve been focusing on myself. Worrying about something the Lord has proven over and over again that he’ll take care of…Money. Funny thing is, I don’t even know if it’s a problem or not yet. My husband and I still need to let the dust settle and see if we’re able to make a go of it on his salary alone. While I love that idea, I have not been enjoying the possibility. Instead I’ve been worrying about the money. How is it going to stretch? How are we going to pay the bills at the right time. I’m not opposed to working, but would love to find something as flexible as I have had up to now. During all this fretting, I turned to the Lord at every turn. HA! No I didn’t. If I had turned to God every time I was concerned, He would have provided me with comfort and direction, but for some reason, instead I find myself lingering in the problem instead of the solution, Christ Jesus.

A New Diet

So feeling a bit malnourished, because I haven’t “remained in Him”, I need to start on a new diet plan. A plan that refocuses me on my Lord. I need to spend more time with Him through His word and His people. I need to allow the Lord to meet my needs, and not fret. Will that be through a new job opportunity or the opportunity to stay home, I don’t know, but I know that my nourishment will be found in Jesus, so I need to get healthier with Him.

Apart from me you can do nothing.

Instead of continuing to try to cling to my own ways, focusing on the negative, I need to find the blessings from the Lord in my family, His word and the life He has given me. I have big plans for myself. I want to be a writer and speaker, but apart from God I can do nothing. I must trust in Him to give me the strength, sanity and opportunity. Time to spend some time in His word and in prayer.

Are you malnourished?

 

 


 
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Posted by on March 27, 2012 in John, My God is the Vine

 

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My God is … God Psalm 46:10

Psalm 46:10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

Be Still

How often are you still? Do you stop? Ever? Many of my friends hardly ever stop. Even when they do stop physically, their minds are still racing, and they don’t truly get any rest from their hectic lives. Being still takes focus. It’s not easy at all. You can start to feel guilty, wiggling around thinking about all of the things not getting done while you’re “being still”.

What do we miss in our hectic lives

In Psalm 46:10, God says to “Be still and know that I am God”. What a blessing of being still! For many years I had worked a 40 hour a week job. I actually worked a lot more hours than that, because I had a virtual commute. It always sounds so wonderful. I got to work from home! But that has its pluses and minuses. Yes I could run and get my boys when I needed to, and if something came up I could take care of it. The truth is, usually those things didn’t come up, but instead I would be more likely to allow my work to impede on my family time. I would be doing fine, playing a game or watching a movie with the boys when I would think of one more thing that I could get done before tomorrow (so that day would be “easier”). I would work on that while I was “with” my boys. I would not be fully present in either, not accomplishing anything of value in the end. The next day was not easier, as I had plenty more to worry about that day.

Each day my minds raced. I wanted to be sure that my work was visible even though I wasn’t in the office. I wanted to make my work successful for the business, my bosses and myself. I wanted to do well, so I could feel good about my work. What really happened, because I never took down time for my brain is I was not my best. When I would over work myself, in the name of dedication, I would push myself beyond what was useful for any of us.

Clearing your mind

I don’t know about the other women out there, but clearing my mind is a foreign concept to me. Even when I am sitting still in a quiet room, my mind is not clear. I may be having 25 different thoughts in less than a minute. My mind is all over the place. Do you remember the scene in Ghostbusters when they’re told to pick what will destroy them by what they think, and their plan is to clear their minds so that nothing will destroy them? That was always such a ridiculous scene to me, because I couldn’t even conceptualize emptying my brain. Is that a man/woman thing, or just a problem I have? I’m not sure, but if it had been me out there, we would have had 20 or more things to fight off with our proton streams.

 

And Know that I am God

Being still, clearing our minds takes practice. One of the great benefits of having the hours you spend for work reduced is you have time to practice being still. Since I reduced my hours (and recently had them reduced again for me), I have been given the opportunity to work towards being still and knowing He is God. I have started to use the prayers I learned at the prayer retreat I went to (the Jesus Prayer and Lectio Divina) to get me closer to being still. Then I will sit after those prayers and just try to “be” in God’s presence. I’m not saying I’ve perfected it, but the promise to know God better is one worth doing.

Do you know how to be still?

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2012 in My God is God, Psalm

 

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