When we listen to a lecture … listening and language is engaged … [which] …doesn’t seem to be very discriminating in how [we prioritize memorizing information]. So crucial information is treated exactly the same way that trivia is treated
I use a journal to keep track of people and prayer requests although I don’t go to it every week. This isn’t a “do it or else you’ve not done enough” exercise; it’s more rooted in:
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
and give no opportunity to the devil. Ephesians 4:26 – 27 ESV
Our church is studying what it means to be members of the church. Recent lessons are on unity within the church and building one another up. As I read the passage above I was struck by Paul’s command five verses later:
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Ephesians 4:31 ESV
[O]ften those of us that follow Jesus can find it emotionally challenging to let go of the shame of our sins.
It is valid to experience shame that accompanies our guilt before the only holy God when we are in our sinfulness for He is perfect and we aren’t. The sense of shame that accompanies our recognition of how we’re sinful, however, isn’t God’s ultimate goal. Our recognizing Him, coming into a right relationship with Him on His terms then worshiping, glorifying and enjoying Him is. Once we’re forgiven based on the blood sacrifice of Jesus, He sees us through His grace as perfectly sinless; the shame should lead to repentance and then freedom and a deep sense of value as we realize the living God loves us but often we get hung up on what demons, our messed up human brains and our fellow humans tell us.
Written to Jewish Christians, the book of Hebrews contains some deep theology and passages that are personally challenging. One passage that is a beautiful highlighting of history from the Jewish testament that leads into Christian responsibility is chapter 3, verses 7-13.
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,
and virtue with knowledge,
and knowledge with self-control,
and self-control with steadfastness,
and steadfastness with godliness,
and godliness with brotherly affection,
and brotherly affection with love.
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV
If you wonder “For what very reason?” join the club.
In verse 3 Peter tells us
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness …. 2 Peter 1:3 ESV
I’ve made the mistake of thinking my salvation is primarily about me. To be sure, God’s love is for me but a deeper reason He saves is for His purposes and to bring glory to Himself.
In my myopic existence I don’t focus my attention on Jesus. I often consider my benefits and blessings, which are truly benefits and blessings and I should recognize them as such and thank God for them but His purpose goes beyond just saving me; He saves me as a testimony to His faithfulness, His grace, His love, His patience and His sovereignty. His desire is to see all people choose Him and enter into an eternal relationship with Him but in Paul’s case, specifically:
I believe in a personal, engaged, all-powerful, God who is alive, aware and refers to Himself within His creation. I believe the garden of Eden was His first example and Judaism was another. I believe He is and has been demonstrating that we, humans, as His creation will chose sinfulness rather than Him that no matter what options He gives us; we will choose to turn our backs on Him and reject Him.
I believe that He gave Israel (the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Israel) repeated grace; leading them Himself, through judges, prophets, priests and kings and they still rejected Him until He chastised them with slavery in other nations for almost 3,000 years.
Then David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly: “O LORD, the God of our ancestor Israel, may you be praised forever and ever!
Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O LORD, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength.
“O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace. “O LORD our God, even this material we have gathered to build a Temple to honor your holy name comes from you! It all belongs to you!
I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there. You know I have done all this with good motives, and I have watched your people offer their gifts willingly and joyously.
“O LORD, the God of our ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, make your people always want to obey you. See to it that their love for you never changes.
Give my son Solomon the wholehearted desire to obey all your commands, laws, and decrees, and to do everything necessary to build this Temple, for which I have made these preparations.”
Then David said to the whole assembly, “Give praise to the LORD your God!” And the entire assembly praised the LORD, the God of their ancestors, and they bowed low and knelt before the LORD and the king. 1 Chronicles 29:10 – 20 NLT