When I read news stories about so many shootings like the one in Colorado last week, it makes me want to sit down and cry. I can envision the Lord shedding many tears as He watches His creation crumble under the weight of sin. I pray daily for many of you and for the situations we face in this sin tainted world…one prayer that is so imperative, is a prayer for the Lord to heal us as a nation (and a world) from hatred, violence, divisiveness, self-centered entitlement, and evil. When I say that prayer, I am reminded that the Lord has the antidote for…and can heal all and any of those sinful characteristics.
Although he never actually said it on the old Dragnet show, we associate Sgt. Joe Friday as saying… “just the facts, ma’am”. Well, my devotion for today is “just the facts”. These facts are the real reason that we have and need Holy Week! Our world is messed up with sin…and our Savior is the antidote!
Hatred…The antidote for hatred is LOVE! The bible says that “God is Love!!!” Unconditional “Agape” love!!! Imagine what this world would be like if we followed God’s plan for us found in Mark 12:30-31…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Tomorrow is Maundy Thursday. Jesus showed unconditional Love and Humility as He washed the disciple’s feet. On this night before His death (for you and me) he told them: John 13:34-35…“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
So, How about you? Are you combating hatred by reflecting GOD’S LOVE into the world?
VIOLENCE…The antidote for violence is PEACE! Once Adam and Eve brought sin into God’s paradise everything changed! We see that there has been violence as far back as from the time of Cain killing Able. Wars and violence from tribe to tribe, people to people, nation to nation. We wish we could rub a genie in a bottle. If we could I think for our wish we would ask for “world peace!” …. a few months ago on Christmas, we celebrated the fact that God (not a genie) sent His Son to be that PEACE. Isaiah 9:6…For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Not only is He PEACE, but He gives us that peace. Galatians 5:22-23a… But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Then, after He makes peace for us, He wants to make peace through us! 1 Corinthians 5:18-21…All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. You are an ambassador of peace for the Lord!!!!! Peacemakers! Who do you need to make peace with?
DIVISIVENESS AND DISSENTION…The antidote for divisiveness and dissention is UNITY! God hand made all people…He died for all people…and longs for all to know Him as Lord and Savior…and He wants us all to “play nice”, to be unified! Psalm 133:1…How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! As Christians, we need to be unified in our calling to Glorify the Lord…what does that look like? 2 Corinthians 13:11… Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. We need to remember that loving our neighbor as ourselves, includes those who look, speak, think, and act differently that you. Yes, even the ones we don’t particularly like! Galatians 3:28…There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. What about you? Are you seen as someone who unifies or someone who divides?
SELF-CENTERED ENTITLEMENT…the antidote for self-centeredness and entitlement is LAW and GOSPEL! We see it everywhere; people feel they are entitled to have what they want…do what they want…feel what they want! James 4:1-3…What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You may wonder why I said the antidote is Law and Gospel. Well…What do you deserve? What are you entitled to? The painful truth is that the Law convicts you… you deserve DEATH! Romans 3:23… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God! We sin and what does that entitle us to? Romans 6:23…For the wages of sin is death, OUCH!
But the good news of the GOSPEL tells us…Romans 3:24…and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. And again in Romans 6:23b… the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Have you embraced the reality that on your own, you lose? On your own you get what you deserve, what you are entitled to…and it’s not good! But, through faith you get what you don’t deserve…forgiveness and eternal life! Mercy is when we don’t get what we deserve (death and separation from God). Grace is when we get what we don’t deserve. (forgiveness and life)
Evil…The antidote for evil is GOOD! You may have heard it said that “God is Good…all the time! and all the time…God is Good!!!!!” It’s true! Here is a nifty but seldom used verse Nahum 1:7…The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.
Or, how about 1 Chronicles 16:34…Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
or Psalm 145:9…The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.
We know that there is a lot of evil in the world. When we say the Lord’s Prayer, we ask God to deliver us from evil. And in Psalm 23 we say Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.
God is the giver of all that is good! The question is…are you an agent of good or evil to those in your circle of influence??
So…Is the world messed up? YES! But God is the antidote to all that ails us!!! But remember to be on your guard until He calls you home.
We all look forward to the day that we will be face to face with the Lord…as we enter God’s Heavenly Kingdom! Words can’t begin to tell the story! Rev. 21:4-5…‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Sounds great! There will be none of the issues we talked about today. But, in the meantime, there is also beauty all around us. Take time to watch a sunset, listen to a bird sing, marvel at the mystery of birth, pray to a loving God, reach out to a lonely or troubled person. The antidote for all that ails us is Jesus! Remember that God may be using you to be the answer to someone’s prayer!
How and to whom can you be an agent (ambassador) for the Lord?
I invite (and strongly encourage) you to focus on the Law and the Gospel by taking the Holy Week journey with Jesus…by going to royred.org to worship online with us. Live stream starts Maundy Thursday and Good Friday at noon (traditional) and 7:00 (contemporary). Easter live stream begins at 8:00 (traditional) and 9:30 (contemporary).
HUMOR FOR THE DAY:
“After a very long and boring sermon, the parishioners filed out of the church saying nothing to the preacher. Towards the end of the line was a thoughtful person who always commented on the sermons. ”Pastor, today your sermon reminded me of the peace and love of God!” The pastor was thrilled. “No-one has ever said anything like that about my preaching before. Tell me why.” “Well – it reminded me of the Peace of God because it passed all understanding…and the Love of God because it endured forever!”