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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…not pleased with anyone’s death Ezekiel 18:31-32

Ezekiel 18: 31-32 Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get Doing What's Rightyourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord God. Turn, then, and live.

For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone

These verses come on the heals of God explaining that each person is responsible for their own sins. Their transgressions are their own. They aren’t blamed for their father’s sins, and also the father is not blamed for the child’s sins. He also says that those that turn from their sins are no longer condemned. Why does this matter? Because, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Because we are sinners, we are not supposed to live in heaven. We are supposed to be condemned for our sins and experience death, a total separation from the love of God. Even when we confess and try to change, we sin. It’s a part of our earthly condition.

Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me

As Christians we struggle with our sin so much. We are pulled one way by our flesh and another way by our Spirit. Remember those pictures of a man with a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other? I think this is the struggle they were trying to represent with that image. We feel torn between our earthly selves and our desire to be closer to God without any of the junk of sin between us. We need to get rid of the sin that keeps us from having a fulfilling life with the Lord (here on earth and on for eternity). God calls on us in this verse to cast away our transgressions. He doesn’t want us to keep them close by. He doesn’t want us to sort of give them up. He’s calling us to throw them as far away as possible from ourselves. To distance ourselves from the sins that entangle us. The sins that get in the way of our relationship with others and especially with Him. He doesn’t want anything to get in the way of the blessings He has in store for us. He loves us.

It can be really hard to distance ourselves from our sins. Especially if we kind of (ok really) like them. Maybe you enjoy having sex with multiple partners. Maybe you don’t care that you binge drink every weekend. Perhaps you’re not that worried about flirting with someone other than your spouse. Maybe you don’t care that you cheat a little on your taxes or wrote some fictional successes on your last resume. Maybe you don’t care, but God does. Not because he likes to keep you under control, but because when you start to do these things, they eat away at your soul. They distract you from God. You start getting problems that complicate your life and divert your focus on God. You get a disease, get crippled in a drunk driving accident, get arrested for tax evasion or any multitude of distractions. But it’s not just these things, but anything that gets in the way of our relationship with God. Sometimes that’s even other relationships. Anything that makes you think about yourself or something else more than you’re thinking about your relationship with God is an unwanted distraction. Be alert to the temptations.

Get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit

It’s not too late. We can get rid of those distractions, or rather God can get rid of them for you. Go to Him in prayer. Tell Him you’ve had enough and that you need His help. Maybe you can use these words from Psalm 51 as a starting point:

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.
Indeed, I was born guilty,
a sinner when my mother conceived me.

You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Turn, then, and live

God gave us Jesus Christ to die on the cross to make restitution for our sins. We can’t do this on our own, but God doesn’t want anyone to experience death. He wants to be in a relationship with us forever. He gave us a way out of our sinful demise. He saved us with the ultimate sacrifice; His Son. In response to this awesome love and forgiveness, we now must work to turn from our sins and turn back to the Lord. Keeping our focus on Him, that we might live.

 

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My God is…Upholding me Isaiah 41:10

Isaiah 41:10 – do not fear, for I am with you, girl-at-door
do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

do not fear, for I am with you,
    do not be afraid, for I am your God;

The devil is a bully. What do bullies do? They pick on you when you’re alone. They almost never attack or bully when they’re out numbered. The devil wants to separate you from God and those who point you towards God. The devil wants to make you feel alone and helpless. The devil wants to rob you of your joy in the Lord. But WE ARE NOT ALONE! We don’t have to fear, because God is with us. The devil doesn’t want us to feel like God is with us, but He is. In Matthew 1:23, the angel even says that Jesus should be called Emmanuel which means “God is with us.” Have you ever been bullied? Remember how alone you felt? We don’t have to feel that anymore. We need to remember that God is with us and that He’s got the situation under control. Expect Him to show up in cool and unusual ways!

I will strengthen you, I will help you

Going back to that bullying idea. The devil wants you to feel weak. Bullies try to take away your power. Well, our power is in the Lord. He is the source of our strength and our power. When we’re in trouble, when the devil is attacking, God will strengthen you. He will help you. Trust HIM!

WARNING!!!

You’re going to be attacked. And let me tell you the closer you get to God, the more you spend time with Him, the more the devil gets frustrated. He attacks. And he’s good at it. But we have one who is stronger. One who can show us the way. The one who can stop arguments in their tracks by helping us own up to our mistakes. Do you know how quickly arguments end when one person says, “Your right, I shouldn’t have done that.”? So often in our marriages and friendships, we end up trying to defend ourselves instead of owning up to our sin. It’s not easy to do, but boy does it change things. Because we have God on our side, we’re able to admit our sins and restore relationships. Without God, I find admitting my wrongs is almost impossible.

I will uphold you with my victorious right hand

But with God all things are possible. No matter how far wrong things have gone, God is able to fix the problem. Relationships, our needs, our dreams and our faith are all in God’s hands. He can take care of any of them. This part of the verse reminds me of something that happened a few weeks ago on my morning walk with my friend. She and I were walking, and she was on the street side of the sidewalk. We’re walking along fine, when she loses her balance and starts to fall toward the street, where a semi was barreling along. By the grace of God, I was able to grab her arm and pull her back from what could have been disaster. That’s what God does for us. We’re walking along. Everything seems to be going well in our lives, then WHAMO!  We trip up. Life gets hard. We make a mistake, we sin, and fall short of the Glory of God. We don’t reflect Him in our lives. But God upholds us with his victorious right hand. He reaches out and pulls us back to Him. By His grace we are able to continue on.

Have you tripped up?

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2013 in Isaiah, My God is upholding me

 

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My God is … Good Psalm 145: 9

Psalm 145: 9 – The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all he has made. 

“God is Good. All the Time. All the Time, God is Good”

Have you ever heard that? I believe it. As I start this journey to learn more about God by looking at his attributes as described in the Bible, I decided to start here, because this is the attribute I lean on most. I need compassion from my Good God.

I’m not held accountable for my sin. 

God displays His compassion and goodness in so many ways in my life, but the one that is most important is that I’m not held completely accountable for my sin. Sure there are earthly consequences for my action, but if I were to be held accountable for being the sinner that I am I would be going to hell when I die. I’m not. Not because of anything I did. Not because I’m a good person (thank goodness – because most days someone I know would probably think I’m not), but because he shows me compassion through His Son Jesus Christ my Savior. Because of His Sacrifice on the cross, I get to go to heaven when I die, and that’s an exciting thing to me.

Placed in a Christian Family

But I find that He is compassionate for me in many other ways. Probably one that’s toward the top of my list is that I come from a Christian family. A family who has spent their whole lives in service to the Lord. Both as church workers and just those who care for others, my family has always had their focus on the Lord. That’s a huge blessing. My core family now, my husband, boys and I are all Christians as well. And perhaps this is where the Lord had a lot of compassion for me.

Given a Christian Husband

When I met my husband, I was a teacher in my church’s school. He wasn’t a Christian, and he wasn’t really going out of his way to learn about God. Because of my extensive knowledge of the kind of men I didn’t want to be with, I spotted the right one right away. I could tell he was different. But he wasn’t a Christian. I had been raised to look for a spouse who shared my beliefs. A man who would want to grow in our relationship together and with the Lord. Don’t let this fool you. This girl wasn’t that bright. I wasn’t going to let this wonderful man out of my sight. Christian or not, I was going to take the plunge.

We started dating, but I was very clear, come Sunday morning, you’ll know where to find me. I’ll be at church. He didn’t want to raise any red flags in my mind, so he said he’d like to join me. Then about two weeks after we started dating my pastor asked Don (my husband) if he would like to take an informational class about what we believe and maybe get baptized at the end of it. I thought, “Here we go, watch this guy run. Doesn’t my pastor know I’ve only been dating him for two weeks?” to my amazement, Don said he would like to go, and did get baptized. The Lord was compassionate and gave me the Christian husband I had desired in my heart even though I didn’t choose a man who started that way.

There are so many ways that God shows His goodness and compassion in my life. What are some of the ways He’s showing them to you?

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2011 in God is Good, Psalm

 

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