Man …. what a mess!
I read something this week that baffled me. There are more divorces, suicides, infidelities and arguments at Christmas time than any other time of the year. If you think I’m joking, just ask any ER doctor or nurse what’s the busiest time of year? So why is there so much chaos around a time when the focus is supposed to be, “Peace on Earth?”
The 19th Chapter of Matthew is a chapter of the New Testament that focuses on people. Jesus lays out some ground rules for us humans in Matthew 18-20. Not that we need anyone to tell us what to do. Right?
Jesus spent a lot of time answering questions from people who thought he was a sham. If he were here, walking around in your school or hanging around with your friends, he’d probably get the same kind of questions because many people today feel the same way. He could have said, over and over again, ‘Look, you don’t get it, so I think I’ll just save my breath and NOT explain it again. Sounds like a fair way to handle a pointless question, but the Savior of the world decided to make the most of every teachable moment. In Chapter 19, Jesus begins by answering a question, actually a trick question, with some advice that still holds true today. In verse 3 of chapter 19, Jesus spells it out for this religious guy who was trying to trick him.
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.” That part should make us stop and think. What was not this way in the beginning? There was originally no selfishness or sin. That is, if Adam and Eve are real people in the Bible. We have plenty of “scholars” running around today claiming that there wasn’t really an original couple called Adam and Eve. There was no Garden of Eden, no forbidden fruit, no slithering snake or any of that.
But I have to ask you, if there was no REAL Adam and Eve, then there wouldn’t be any ‘real’ original sin to cause the death and suffering, pain and brokenness we experience here on this earth.You don’t have to look too hard to see that this world isn’t running as smoothly as it could.It’s broken, and someone broke it. According to the Biblical account, God had a different plan for mankind. He made us to spend time with Him.In Genesis chapter 3:8, we read that God was on a walk in the garden in the cool of the day when he bumped into Adam and Eve. They were hiding from Him for the first time in their lives.
Aren’t we still hiding from God today? Many people today have forgotten that God’s desire for us is to be with Him. Do we love Him even half as much as He loves us? It’s amazing how little we know about the ONE whose world we live in. Still, many people today would rather not give God the credit for creating, sustaining and ultimately bringing harmony into the 3rd rock from the sun.
So what is God’s plan for us? There are parts of that answer that are different for each person, but there are other parts to that question that are universal.
God wants us to seek Him with our whole hearts. There are countless places where God spells out what he wants from us. Our half of the deal, you might say.Check out these passages:
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
1 Chronicles 28:9
“And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.”
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you. Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law, and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.”
“Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel, for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land.”
“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.”
There are plenty more. Passages such as: 1 Samuel 16:7, John 4:24 and Psalm 139:2 all point us to the same thing… God’s plan for ALL people.
God doesn’t want us killing each other over our faith differences, but he does want us to demonstrate faithfulness to Him. There aren’t several ways to the Father. There IS just Jesus. John 3:16 and 17 have been quoted for years and almost every little boy or girl who has ever heard of Jesus knows these verses. What if we took them at face value? What if we looked at this simple sermon as Gospel truth? Would we be suffering with Muslims and Christians killing one another? Or politicians who are dishonest? Or greedy business owners? Or lazy employees? Or world hunger or any of the vices that pit us one against the other??
I think we all too often place ourselves in the position of God and we work things out “according to OUR will.”
You see, if we’re honest, we don’t need to hide from God as Adam and Eve first taught us to do. He knows right where we are each and every moment. If we looked at our sin as a slap in the Savior’s face, maybe that would be enough to make us put them down? We hurt the One who gave up paradise for us, who set aside the fun and friendship with His creation, to hammer out the details of the deal with Satan. We will have life eternally with Jesus once again, just as He had planned, if we know who He is and we believe that what He accomplished on the cross was specifically for you and for me.
“So let the hurts and pains, the joys and victories of this world draw us closer to the best friend we could ever have. A passage from the Old Testament comes to mind right now.” Joshua 24:15
“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
If the Spirit is leading you to say, “That’s what I want to do too…”, then friend, do it today. Let the world around us see that this God we serve is the real deal and He can do miracles still today, beginning with changing my heart. How about you?
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