Murder Is More Than Killing
“You shall not murder.” Exodus 20:13 ESV
At face value I think most of us, myself included, would read Exodus 20:13 and say, Amen. You would probably also say that you can understand and interpret “You shall not murder” pretty easily. It’s pretty easy to follow, as most would say they don’t want to take the life of another human being.
The Israelites did too. What I mean is they were much like us and they only took Exodus 20:13 at face value, but when God puts his words to paper it’s always more than face value. It’s also about heart value.
Murder can be defined as respecting someone so little that you believe they have no value or importance. Under this greater understanding of “murder of the heart” this broken man would have to admit that there have been times in my life that I’ve committed murder. Such disrespect for someone else that I’ve felt they have little or no value to the world around them. I believe if we’re all honest with ourselves, we’ve all fallen to this heart level with someone in our lives.
Jesus said “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” Matt 5:44-45
We’re called to love those that are our enemies, so that we may be sons of our Heavenly Father and not commit murder of the heart.
Say a prayer today for someone that has hurt you. It might just save their live and mold you to look more like your Father.
Encourage each other
For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. Romans 1:11-12 ESV
I love that Paul admits that he longs for and needs to be encouraged by his friends in Rome. I can relate to the part of Paul that wants to see his friends to impart some spiritual gift upon them. That fits my personality and actually a lot of yours too. We like to be busy working, be a fixer or we want to rescue all those who are hurting. We want to be the ones who have all the answers. It’s so rewarding and fun to bless others!
I believe most of us struggle with admitting that we need to be mutually encouraged by anyone else. Our pride tells us that if we need help or encouragement from someone else we are weak – even a weak Christian. Our arrogance tells us we are mature enough to not need the counsel of anyone other than God. While God’s Word is the only and final authority we should lean on, God has established a family of believers who work together to help us live out our faith. We need to seek that encouragement as well as be that encouragement to others.
I had big plans of all the projects and activities I would get to do when I went on my first mission trip. I looked forward to the opportunity to get to know the people we were visiting and to help bless them. If you have been on a mission trip you know what happened! I returned home humbled by the amazing faith and love the people we visited had for Jesus Christ and for others. I was challenged and sharpened by them.
Remember we weren’t called to live the Christian life alone. Who do you know that you can encourage?
Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.
The past few days I have been chasing a fly around my house. I’ve attempted a variety of hunting techniques. I’ve tried to slam it with my book on the table. I’ve tried aiming a little behind it and clapping my hands together as it jumps off the counter. I’ve tried shuffling it from the door out the window. I cannot get rid of this fly.
Wherever I go, it’s there. If I go upstairs, fly. If I go downstairs, fly.
The presence of God is like (and not like) this fly.
His presence is a mystery beyond comprehension, but simple truths are often the most powerful. There is nowhere that we can go to hide from or avoid God’s presence.
This is not pantheism (the belief that God is “in” everything). God is all-present and ever-attentive to every detail of His creation, but He is utterly distinct from all that He has fashioned. He is the Craftsman, not the craft; the Maker, not the product.
Where do you go to hide from God?
The simple and powerful truth is that we cannot hide from Him or escape His presence. His presence is not to be swatted at or scooped out the door. He longs to be received and embraced.
My one-year-old daughter recently started following me around the house – everywhere. Each time I turn a corner I sense her following me. I could turn and swat at her or try to usher her to another room, but deep joy is found in embracing her presence.
The Lord is ever-present and His presence is utterly satisfying.
Stop trying to hide and learn a new way to embrace Him.
The Listening King
“Bend down, O Lord, and hear my prayer; answer me, for I need your help.” Psalm 86:1 NLT
This is a scandalous line in David’s prayer. It may not seem so at first look since we live in a culture that expects…or demands…to be heard. In David’s time (and even today) kings gave decrees, and were listened to much more that they gave audiences for anyone else to speak. The king’s subjects were the ones to “bend down,” not the king himself.
But David knows that our King is different than earthly kings. He is humble. He is a servant. God does listen to the cries of his people and responds. It’s part of his nature. Adam McHugh says, “God’s serving nature does not make him servile to our desires; he does not serve out of slavish compulsion or hollow duty, but of a freely chosen posture of servanthood, because that is who he is.” (The Listening Life, pg 35)
The awe of this majestic God’s humble heart toward us causes my heart beat hard in my chest and puts into sharper focus how often I approach him with a heart of pride and entitlement. And yet his disposition doesn’t change toward me. As I am humbled and start to understand his true position compared to mine, it is his disposition toward me that changes me. I have been loved by his humble approach with me and I want to give that to others. I want to listen to him and to gain a servant heart that listens and loves like he does.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above . . .”
We live in a powder-keg culture where deep seeded issues and injustices have been created, fueled, and stoked for many years. Regardless of the rhetoric, historical underpinnings, societal trends, and the misnomer that our local community is different, we live in a time of great disruption. With great upheaval comes an opportunity. One of the great questions being posed is “what is the church’s response to all of this?” A quick glance through any social news feed will give you a number of good and bad answers to this question.
As we have been working through a deeper understanding of real Biblical community over the past few weeks, I have been drawn to Colossians 3. As we see the culture around us igniting amidst broken relationships, communities, and systems, this text provides the foundation for us as a body of believers to help rightly extinguish the flames around us. Paul reminds the church that we must first be centered on Jesus:
Verse 1 – seek the things that are above
Verse 2 – set your minds on things that are above
Verse 11 – but Christ is all, and in all
Verse 15 – let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts
Verse 16 – let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly
Jesus is the true center of Biblical community and is the lens by which we should see each other and the world around us. N.T. Wright’s summary of Colossians 3:17 should rightly challenge us, “King Jesus is to be the decider in all your deliberations. His word is to be alive within the Christian community. And, finally, whatever you do or say must be able to stand having these words written above it: In the name of the Lord Jesus. Settle that in your hearts and minds and a great deal else will fall into place.”
May we be a community of Christ-followers who seek and set Jesus as our center. May the peace and Word of Christ rule and dwell as we look to respond, restore, and reconcile this world to Jesus.
“I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books.” Revelation 20:11, 12 NLT
How do you feel when you read this passage in Revelation? Are you filled with fear? Many live their lives in worry of this final day of judgement. Imagine a book made of your life, with every thought and every deed recorded and then read by all. It’s normal to want to hide from examination. As soon as sin entered the world in Genesis 3, Adam and Eve hid. Not much has changed when we sin today. We want to keep it secret, deny it exists, rationalize it, blame others for it, or forget about it.
God has called us to live lives of repentance. You can’t accept a Savior if you don’t or can’t acknowledge that you need saving! Repent. Don’t hide. You need a Savior. Don’t run from Him. Run to Him. God forgives our sin through the covering of the blood of Jesus. It’s the greatest act of mercy and grace. You can face your sins today because you have been loved and accepted by your Heavenly Father.
How will you live today? In confidence or in fear?
Honoring Our Parents
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12 ESV
Right now much of summer is now in the rearview mirror and so are days like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day where we set aside a day to honor those individuals that have their finger prints on our lives. It’s also in that same rearview mirror that we see and learn how best to honor our parents.
Honor by itself can mean to show great respect for. That’s the kind of action that God commands us to have for our parents, which is great respect in action. Over the years, the “How” of that great respect might change, but the what, never does.
What I love about the 10 Commandments is that following all of them is within our control. We choose to honor our parents or not. No matter what your relationship with your parents looks like now, or has looked like in the past, it’s our decision whether we honor them or not.
Many times we allow the breakdown in our relationships with our parents to in turn effect our honoring of them, because we think honoring our parents has to do with us doing something and/or serving them, which can be true. But, the heart behind God commanding us to honor our parents is an “us” thing. In reality it helps us connect with the Holy Spirit, so that God might continue to transform us into the creations he has designed us to be.
We honor our parents because, they deserve it, but also so that we might not get in the way of becoming the Christ follower we have been created to be.