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HYDRATE –WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 16 (Mt.5:29-30) “Sin”

29 “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
Matthew 5:29-30

DRINK IT IN:
When you and I chose to sin, it broke our relationship with God. God had to pull back from us. God will not be around sin. He had to distance Himself from us, because we sinned. Oh…please don’t’ misunderstand, it didn’t change how much God loves us. It did not change the fact that nothing can separate us from His love. But, it did change our ability to join Him in Heaven for eternity. When God created us, He simply had Heaven and Earth as the same place. Then we sinned, and Heaven and Earth had to become separate places. That’s why in the prayer Jesus taught the Apostles to pray, “The Lord’s Prayer,” Jesus taught us to pray to the Father this, “Thy Kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven.” To repeat myself, they used to be the same place. This teaching of Jesus that is recorded in Matthew 5, is what I call a “Salvation Issue.” Jesus is being very direct in this teaching.

When we chose to sin and go against God, we joined the curse that was placed on the world, when Adam and Eve chose to sin. When we chose to join that curse, even unknowingly, we opened the door to Hell for us. It was closed to us prior to this sin thing. The Bible actually says that Hell was created for Satan and the angels that followed him and disobeyed God.(Matthew 25:41) I wish people understood this better. So many people don’t want to believe in God because they say they can’t believe in a God that would send people to Hell. God never intended for people to go to Hell and He doesn’t “send” people there either. I think the following thoughts will explain this fact.

The Bible says, that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, thus God separated Himself from us in our sin. You and I have sinned, and if the sin isn’t paid for, we will remain separated from God.

This is why Jesus was sent to earth from Heaven. God the Father, made Jesus leave their “gated community” in Heaven to become one of us. To come and live “on the other side of the tracks” with us, among us, and in us.” When we sinned, God was forced to make a choice. You see, if God is a God of integrity, then He must follow His own rules. God created two rules soon after He created everything. You can find the rules recorded in Genesis 9:4-5 and Leviticus 17:11. The two rules, are 1.) “Life is in the Blood.” 2. “The blood makes atonement by the life.” Hang in here with me as I explain this a little bit. Put on your thinking caps.

God is the one who created the rules/laws that are referenced in the Bible. These rules/laws are meant for us to follow. Have you thought about the following question? “Does God have to follow the rules? I mean, He is God, and He can do anything He wants, right? Here’s the answer. The very nature of God is perfection and Holiness. Perfection and Holiness ARE Integrity. For God, not to follow His own rules/laws, it would make God a Hypocrite, because He would be asking us to do something that He doesn’t do Himself. A hypocrite lacks integrity. If God lacks integrity, then He is not God at all. God must follow His own rules. It’s the only real guarantees we have in life. God is integrity and God is the same yesterday, today and forever!

So God has these two “strange” rules that He created. One, Life is in the blood, and two, the blood makes atonement by the life.

So, when God’s prized possession, which is mankind(that means You), broke His rules… we sinned. When we sinned, we separated ourselves from God, who is pure holiness and perfection. This is where Rule #2 of God’s, comes into play. “Blood makes atonement.” This word, “atonement,” can be best understood when broken up into three words. “At-One-Ment.” When we all chose to sin, God had to remove Himself from us. But God loves us and wants us to be with Him for eternity. This put God in a situation where He had to appeal to His own law. God says that a life must be taken, in order for a sin to be forgiven. God knew at this point that we needed to be made pure in order for Himself to be with us again. So, God has a major dilemma. The Bible explains God as being two parts. God is JUSTICE. And, God is MERCY. God knows that blood must be taken, which means somebody dies, in order for “at-one-ment” to happen. Atonement means forgiveness. For JUSTICE to be served, a life has to be taken. For MERCY to be served, a life must be spared. Do you see the dilemma that God is facing at this point in time?

So, it makes sense that God chose for animals to be the “life-blood” that is taken to pay for the sins of mankind. This is the way of the Old Testament. A man/woman who had sinned and separated themselves from God, would choose a perfect animal and take it to Jerusalem to the priests of the Temple, and the priests would sacrifice the animal, by taking all its blood from its body, and putting some of the blood on the person who sinned, and then took some of the blood and sprinkled it on the altar of the Temple to show God that blood was shed to pay for the sin. Any left over blood would be burnt as an offering to God. When the blood was shed and placed on the person and then offered to God, God forgave that person for their sins. This was done once a year, every year and had to be done in Jerusalem. By doing this, God’s justice was fulfilled because a life was taken to pay for the sin, and God’s mercy was fulfilled because He was able to spare the life of his most beloved of Creation, and instead took the life of an animal. (To you animal lovers out there…God does love all animals, but not as much as people.) In this plan of God’s…. Justice and Mercy are both fulfilled. That’s a good plan.

However, over time, and for reasons I can’t fully explain, the animal sacrifices became insufficient for mankind as an offering. My opinion is that the offering and killing of an animal was supposed to be a way to prevent people from sinning. I think God was wishing that we as mankind would have enough compassion towards animals that we would want to stop sinning to spare the life of the animal. However, I think, it turned out to be a form of a free ride for people. People became apathetic towards the animal sacrifices and began doing the sacrifices for the purpose of fulfilling religious laws instead of doing the sacrifice as a way of sorrowful regret and repentance. To say it more succinctly, people kept on sinning and did even more sin, knowing that a simple killing of an animal would pay for the sin. It became an easy out for people.

God determines that this Old Testament payment for sins was not sufficient anymore. He needed to “up the stakes.” This is a serious dilemma for God. If animal sacrifices weren’t working, then what sacrifice, in all of creation, would work? There isn’t much more to choose from. It basically left US to be the ones who needed to die, to pay for sin, so we could be “at-one-ment” again with God. This dilemma is intense, because if God chooses to kill us, to pay for our own sins, then He kills us…thus loses us and our relationship with him. You can’t have a relationship with dead people. In this scenario, Justice would be served because the sin would be paid for, but mercy would be left unfulfilled, because we would be dead. The opposite idea of this doesn’t work either. The opposite would leave Justice undone. The opposite would be to let you and me off the hook for our sins by simply forgiving us and letting mercy rule the day…but then Justice would be unfulfilled. God is Justice AND Mercy. God is the same Yesterday, today and forever. He can’t just change His very nature. God is who He is. He is the great “I Am.” Anyway, that would mean that God broke His own rules, thus He would not be integrity anymore and thus would not be God. Big dilemma. Right?

So, God comes up with the perfect solution to this grand dilemma. God, the Father, while in Heaven, looks to His right, and there sits Jesus, the only Son of God. Jesus is the one whom God created everything with and through. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the “Us” in the very beginning of the Bible when God said, “Let US create mankind in OUR image, to be like US.” Jesus is the ONLY SON OF GOD and has always existed with God.

Can you imagine how much God must love us in order for Him to look at His only Son and choose Him to be the one who is killed, so the Life-Blood would be shed and our sins forgiven, thus fulfilling His Justice. But, because Jesus is the Only Son of God, God knew that He could raise Him from the dead and also fulfill His Mercy. And…its gets better! Since this is such an incredible Sacrifice. God would only do it once for all time and for all sins. This IS what is called Grace. Grace is nothing more than this but it is everything. The fact that Jesus came to earth and had His life blood shed for us…IS GRACE. Grace is a free gift. You couldn’t make Jesus not give His blood. You couldn’t make Jesus give His blood. He chose to go and give His blood because He wanted to please and honor His Father. This is a free gift! This IS Grace.

How hard must it have been to be the Father in Heaven and for Him to ask His only Son to leave the comforts of Heaven, be born as a vulnerable baby, live a perfect life, be beaten, scourged, humiliated, and crucified?…………….So you and I could have our sins washed clean? So God could have you and me back? What a price!

Don’t tell me, or anyone else, that God doesn’t love you. Don’t tell me, or anyone else that God sends you to Hell. He only honors our choices after paying such a huge price for us.

God did EVERYTHING He could do for you. To do anything else…to make it easier for you…would make God break His own rules and thus not be integrity, thus not be God. Please do not tell me that you actually wished God would have done more for you? What a price. For me. For you.

All that…to pay for our sins. We are loved.

So when Jesus says, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell,” you and I can understand why, right?

So here is the big question…Jesus didn’t mean this literally did He? Because, if He meant this teaching literally the Apostles would have plucked their eyes out on the spot. The Apostles would have been walking around with no hands. If this were literal, can you imagine what the Church services each weekend, around the world would, look like? We wouldn’t need multi-media presentations because none of us would have eyes to see it. We would have to sing our worship songs a cappella because all our musicians wouldn’t have any hands. None of us would have eyes or hands.

So what was Jesus teaching here if He didn’t mean it literally?

Jesus loved to get our attention. He used some pretty cool and amazing illustrations to make us ponder, as long as possible, about His ways. All Jesus is saying here is this….”Do everything you can in your power and with me helping you, to not sin.” If every time you get on the computer, you sin, then wouldn’t it be better to get rid of the computer than to continue in your sin and eternally be separated from God the Father?

The computer is just one example of a million things that we use when we choose to sin. What Jesus is saying here is simply this, “Stop CHOOSING to sin!”

If there is anything in your life that helps you choose to sin and you keep using it as an excuse as to why you sin….then put it away until you can have the self-discipline and the strength to resist the sin. Throw it away forever, if that is what it takes for you to quit using it as an example to continue to live in sin. Jesus is saying…”Please…after all the crap I went through to show you how much My Father in Heaven loves you…please don’t keep on sinning….Please don’t make My pain and sacrifice a waste of your eternal life….please.”

SWEAT IT OUT:
Is there anything in your life that you are using as an excuse to continue sinning?
What are you continuing as sin?
What does God have to do in His relationship with you if you choose to keep on sinning? (If you don’t know that answer, please go back above and read about what God has to do when we sin.)
What sin or sins do you HAVE to keep on doing? _________________________________________________ (fill in the blank…and seriously think about whether or not you HAVE to keep on committing it.) Remember, when Jesus died, He broke the power of sin and its curse over you. By giving your life to Jesus you “can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.”
Be a conqueror! Not an excuse maker!

This is tough stuff!
You can do it!

Remember these two passages and it will help you conquer all sin in your life.

1 Corinthians 10:13, “13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

1 John 1:9, 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

Live Holy! A huge price was paid so that Justice would be served to pay for your sins and Mercy was served so that God could keep you in a relationship with Him.

Don’t keep Crucifying Jesus because you choose to live in sin. You and I are not perfect and we will make mistakes. But there is a big difference between making mistakes and CHOOSING to sin.

Choose Holiness.
You will be eternally grateful.
The Father in Heaven will be too.


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 14 (Mt.5:25-26) “Before Court”

“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”
Matthew 5:25-26, See also Luke 12:57-59.

DRINK IT IN:
I humbly suggest a better idea than what Jesus says in this passage. Live your life in such a way that nobody ever wants to take you to court. Jesus actually said this anyway…Its really not my idea. I should give credit where credit is due! This seems like a simple passage. Jesus knows we live in a fallen world and that we are going to face many trials. It seems clear to me that Jesus was using his own advice found in Matthew 10:16 where He says, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” I translate that passage this way, “Sly as a snake — Innocent as a dove!” I love that passage.

Jesus is a strategist. He is a holy and innocent strategist. I think that we as people have to be very careful about this thing called strategy, because every single one of us is tempted to justify our motives of why we do what we do by simply saying, “its just strategy.” It would be very easy to take advantage of people and call it taking Jesus’ advice about being shrewd. But Jesus also commands us to be innocent. And even stronger than innocent, He calls us to live above reproach. The fact though, is this, Jesus calls us the Sheep, and the people of world, the Wolves. You are to live as a sheep, not a wolf.

I grew up on a farm and for many years we had hundreds of sheep…there may have even been a time where we had a thousand sheep…if not…it seemed like it. I learned from my experience that sheep are fast. Sheep can be very dumb and at other times be very smart. Its easy to cause sheep to panic. Sheep will protect the things they love, like their babies. Sheep are very playful with one another. Sheep love to eat. So, in reality, its a fair comparison for Jesus to call us sheep. Does this sound like ewe? (Bad sheep joke there.)

It does sound like us. Now, we didn’t have wolves on the farm, but we had coyotes.(Close enough.) They would sneak in and kill and steal and destroy. Jesus said, “I am sending you out as sheep among wolves.” Are you ready for me to get personal? Here’s the deal. If you behave like a wolf, you are a not a follower of Jesus, even if you give yourself the “Christian” title. People who call themselves Christians but have the behavior of a wolf are what I call “Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing.” (I said it like I meant it.) I’m not talking about a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” I meant it when I said, “sheep in wolves clothing.” These types of people are really very insecure and weak, but they hide behind their title of Christian and their position of power and they appear tough/wise and strategic, but really are not. This type of person is what we, in America, call a Bully. Bullies really aren’t tough like a wolf…they are insecure inside and have the timid character traits of a sheep, but they put on this tough exterior of words, and positional power and hold all that over people, thus, acting like a wolf. A sheep in wolves’ clothing.

Don’t be a sheep in wolves’ clothing.
Be a sheep. (If this title bothers you, then please take it up with Jesus.)

If you are a sheep then you will have to trust in your Shepherd to protect you. You will have to sometimes finish last and rely on the promise of The Shepherd, “The last shall be first.” This one promise is critical, and it encourages us to live like sheep with confidence in the fact that the Shepherd has our backs! Jesus is our Shepherd and He made sure there would be a Bible created, loaded with wisdom, that would help us live our lives as the kind of sheep, He will return for, and spend eternity with. This Hydrate series is simply a form of teaching from the things Jesus said in the Bible. “Hydrate” is a “thinking out loud” about all the things Jesus commanded or taught in the gospels of the Bible. Hydrate is meant to inspire you and induce within you a desire to focus more on Jesus Christ and understand what He believes about you and asks of you.

All Jesus is saying in this teaching is, “If someone is taking you to court, settle it ahead of time.” He is saying, “Don’t let others determine your future.” I think Jesus is saying, “Your future is your reputation, your position, your hard work, don’t hold onto it all too tightly, but don’t let its’ future be determined by anyone else other than you and me.” Jesus is warning you and me in this passage, to make sure we don’t live in such a way, that we end up being controlled by other people. Jesus is saying the best hands to “land” in are God’s hands and the 2nd best hands to end up in are your own. If you allow yourself and your future to be left in the hands of another person…that’s just not smart and its a form of prison. Its especially not smart when its your adversary. IF you are headed to court with your adversary, settle quickly and keep your future in the hands of God and yourself…not anyone else!

Try to settle ahead of time.
Give.
Take the High Road.
Be sacrificial.
Be like Jesus…who was led “like a lamb to slaughter.”
Do what is necessary to make sure you are able to keep your eyes on eternity. That means be “sly” and “innocent.”

If you fight for the things of the world and win…it’s probably the only reward you’re going to end up with. (I Hope you REALLY enjoy it!) Jesus warned us in other passages of the Bible by saying something like this…I paraphrase… “If you do anything on earth for a reward, that is the only reward you are going to get.” Then He says, “Store up for yourselves treasure in Heaven!” Think of it this way…To those who live for this world…this is as close to Heaven as they are going to get. For those who sacrifice now and live for Heaven…this is as close to Hell as they are going to get.

There is so much more to live for in eternity. Don’t fight so hard for the now.
Fight for eternity.

SWEAT IT OUT:
Are there THINGS in your life, that you have in your own grip so tightly controlled, that God can’t even use it, because you won’t let go of it and trust Him with it?
Here are some ideas when I say “Things you control”…
“Your” work’s success.
“Your” Marriage.
“Your” Children.
“Your” Money.
“Your” Security.
“Your” Habits.
“Your” goals.
“Your” material items.
“Your” stress.
The list could go for miles…

I don’t want to get to detailed on this one. You are smart enough to know if you are holding on to something to tightly and controlling it.
The question is, will you be honest enough with yourself to admit that you are trying too hard and holding on too tightly with____________________________________? (I dare you to fill in the blank and then trust God with it!)

Here are some closing thoughts. Jesus says, “settle things quickly before you go to court.” Now, why again? Because if it goes to court you allow your life and future to be determined by someone else other than you or God. That’s not a good place to be. So…think about the following Bible verses and work with a determined heart to live accordingly.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Romans 12:18

“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”
Romans 14:19

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
Matthew 22:21

Is God “speaking” to you right now about some change you could make in your life about anything that you have just read.

Who are you waiting on to make the change for you?
You are “sly” enough to know that you are the one who makes change in your own life.
Stay sly…and remember…its more important to be innocent.
Sly and Innocent are what Jesus asks you to be.
To know Jesus asks us this, is empowering.
You own the daily choices that determine WHO holds your future.
Keep your future in the hands of God and yourself.
That’s the good life.


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 11 (Mt.5:17-20) “Law”


17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5:17-20 (NLT)

DRINK IT IN:
Do you ever get confused when you read the Bible? You don’t have to answer that, because we all know the answer is, “Of Course I do.”

This passage can be deeply confusing if we do not understand timing. In fact, timing is everything when it comes to understanding the Bible. If you understand WHEN Jesus said this teaching, then it really becomes easier to understand.

The timing of Jesus’ speaking this statement is still in the Old Testament Law’s timeframe. Remember that Jesus doesn’t initiate the New Testament “law” until he dies on the cross and raises from the dead. Just before He dies on the cross, He says to His mother, “Look, I make all things new.”

So…while Jesus is alive and is teaching this passage, early on in His ministry, He is obviously right in saying that His purpose is not to get rid of the Old Testament Law. We know, because of 20/20 hindsight, that Jesus’ purpose for coming was to pay the price for all of mankind’s sins. Period.

So…when Jesus says that He didn’t come to abolish the Law, He meant it literally. That is the Father’s job, not Jesus’. Jesus is comforting the Jew’s in this teaching because they truly rely on the Law. I’m sure, as Jesus shows up on the scene with such a different kind of teaching, that He caused them to fear that He might be trying to erase the Old Testament Law, which is everything their lives had been based on up to this point. When Jesus says to them, “I assure you that not ever the smallest stroke of a pen will be abolished from the Law until everything is accomplished”….Did you notice that He sneaks in an “UNTIL.” (Don’t forget that Jesus is the one who taught that we all should be “sly as a snake and innocent as a dove.” I think He is practicing that philosophy in this teaching! I love that.

He basically is saying in this teaching, “Nothing changes until everything is accomplished.” So…nearly 3 years after Jesus says this…He is on the Crucifixion Cross and He says, “IT IS FINISHED!” Finished is another word for accomplished. Accomplished/Finished/Complete does not mean annihilated/erased/forgotten. It means COMPLETE. When runners cross the finish line, it doesn’t erase the race. It simply means the race is finished. The history of that race will never be forgotten. The winner of the race has a trophy that has his/her name engraved in it. Nobody can take that race away from the runners. The race was real, it existed, it had a serious purpose, but it is finished, not erased.

So when Jesus says this teaching, the race is still being run. The race hasn’t finished yet and in three short years, the race will have been finished and Jesus is the one who crossed the finish line first and is the Champion of “the race.” Then…3 days later, as He conquers death through His resurrection, He creates a new law. Again…what a champ! This new law is what we will be talking about through the rest of this Hydrate series, so I don’t want to spend any more time on it during this devotion. I want to finish out what Jesus was specifically saying to the people who physically heard Him teach this.

As the Old Testament “race” was still on when Jesus said this, he was telling the crowd that the 613 current Israelite laws were still in affect. He was saying that they should follow the laws and do their very best to obey every detail.

He then said something that would have scared them deeply. He said…”if you want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven you are going to have to BE MORE RIGHTEOUS than the pharisees. Please understand that what the listeners would have heard when Jesus said this is very different than what He meant. Righteousness to a Jewish person in this timeframe means OBEY THE LAW. DO MORE. DON’T BREAK A SINGLE LAW. And, to top it all off, Jesus said they had to do it better than the Pharisees. A Pharisee was a teacher of the religious law back in Jesus’ day. A pharisee is someone who basically went to school to memorize all 613 Laws of the Old Testament and then strive to live them perfectly everyday. Can you imagine the fear it would have caused you to hear Jesus say, “if you want to go to Heaven, you have to be more righteous than the Pharisees?’ I’m sure Jesus really caught their attention and had them sitting on the edge of their seats.

But really…if they understood what Jesus was really saying…and many may have understood…then they would have taken a deep sigh of relief and been encouraged, instead of scared. You see the Pharisees were excellent at obeying all the laws of the Old Testament. They were so good at obeying every law that they didn’t worry about themselves, as much as, they focused on pointing out where other people were failing in obeying every 613 laws. So…Jesus did to them what they were doing to others. He pointed out where they were failing. Jesus was good at giving the righteous bullies of the world, a taste of their own medicine. In fact, here is one of Jesus’ “medicine moments.” Its found in Matthew 23:27-28…
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” Ouch! Nailed them, didn’t He?

So what did Jesus mean, as He taught the crowd by saying to them, ‘Your righteousness must surpass that of the Pharisees or you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven?” He was saying that the Pharisees were good but they were lacking the one thing that would make them great. LOVE. (I am a firm believer that the enemy of the great is just the good.)

The Pharisees walked around demanding and pointing out where everybody was failing in obeying the law…and we all know that nobody can follow every law perfectly all day every day…so the Pharisees were failing in areas too. But they took it upon themselves to point out other peoples failures and were ignoring their own. They lacked humility and love. They were true hypocrites. Before you start shaking your finger at the Pharisees maybe you should think of this example. Have you ever noticed that when people drive slower than you, they are “idiots,” and when they drive faster than you, they are “maniacs.” If you are like this…then you might be like a Pharisee.

In my opinion, Jesus was saying to His listeners, “keep following the law, there is a good purpose in every law that the Father has given us, but what is more important than following every detail of the law, is being a person who obeys the law AND….IS LOVE.”

SWEAT IT OUT:

Do you have areas in your life where you are adamant about telling others to do what you say, but you don’t do very well at it yourself? A fun example from me about this would be how I tend to let my bedroom be messy, but I continually ‘ride’ my kids about cleaning up their rooms.

Can you and I think of other areas in our lives, more important than cleaning rooms, where we get upset at how “laws” are broken but we ourselves tend to break them too? I was at my daughters soccer game recently and after our team scored, we as the parents went crazy, hooping and hollering and I admit that I did a little extra to try to get “under the skin” of the parents on the other team. In a sick way, it made me feel powerful. (Don’t look down on me, at least I am confessing it! LOL) Then, a little later in the game, the opposing team scored on us and I noticed that the parents of this team returned some ‘extra’ hooping and hollering to give us a taste of our own medicine. I confess, again, that I was upset at them for their immature behavior…but I am the one who did it first! (How silly and stupid of me.) I caught my behavior and I began to cheer at the great plays and goals of both teams. It felt good to do what was right.

Can you think of bigger or smaller examples in your own life where you are causing darkness to prevail and yet you get angry at others for doing the same thing?

Do you have a “secret-tendency” to celebrate internally or out loud when other people fail at something. (If you do, surely you are not proud of this are you?)

Are you demanding of things from others and at the same time not willing to do as you demand?

Are there areas in your life where you come across judgmental or hypocritical? (Its very hard to be “self-aware” about this. Maybe you would have the courage to ask a trusted person in your life this question. Yes? ) Who are you going to ask? Do it soon.

Today, live your life being an encourager. When you see people fail be the one to forgive first and show them grace.

I think, in this one teaching, that Jesus is simply saying, “Focus on your own mistakes, not on the mistakes of others.”
Its very easy to get judgmental when all you do is focus on other people’s sins. Next time somebody sins against you and you find yourself struggling to let it go…just ask yourself if you have ever sinned against anybody. It will put things in perspective very quickly.

So…again…be an encourager today. Give some extra grace to others.
When you and I do this very thing. It helps us be people of kindness and understanding.
It helps us to be people of love.
I hope that you and I will live this way from now on.
Work on honoring the things Christ asks of us AND being a person of love.
You’ll look a lot like Jesus if you do.


Retweeting Jesus “RT@JesusChrist #11”

My God, My God, why have you abandoned me? –JC
Matthew 27:46 (NLT)

Are you a person of Integrity?
Is God a God of Integrity?

I don’t know the answer to the first question above, and I must say that I have only a very few things that I am absolutely positively for-sure about. The answer to the second question is one. Not only does God have integrity…He IS integrity.

Buckle in for this study. Its a long one. But its the foundation for all of Christianity. Its not one that we can just “cheap” our way through.

Understanding that God is all about integrity is the foundational understanding that is required to begin to comprehend what Jesus is saying when He tweets, “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me.”

If God is Integrity…AND God has created some rules or laws for life, then God must follow His own rules or He wouldn’t be integrity…if He isn’t integrity then He isn’t God.

One more “foundational point” we must understand. Be patient with me in this teaching part. (Don’t get frustrated as you read this…keep reading and really put your thinking cap on.) Its important to understand the most essential parts of God are not just Integrity, but also His CHARACTER.

Character is WHO you are.
Integrity is HOW you live.

Character and Integrity are so closely linked. Just like the spelling of WHO & HOW. They are the same, yet different.

The Character of God is best described in these words. PERFECT/PURE. This character trait about God is what makes Him the best law giver/law creator/law follower/law officer/law judge. This is what makes Him the final authority. Because of this Perfection/Purity trait of God, God WILL NOT be in the presence of sin. Its really not that He won’t…its just impossible. It would be like saying you are going to take a little light and mix it with a little darkness. It would be like saying you are going to take intense heat and mix it with extreme cold. Its impossible. You just would end up with something totally different. The Bible is clear. God is the same, yesterday, today and forever.

Its important to understand this Integrity and character of God to fully grasp this Tweet of Jesus’.

If God is perfection/integrity/character/purity…this means then, when God creates a law, He must follow it Himself. So in Leviticus we can read about God creating the very first laws. The Core Law that God creates…which means…every other law stems from it, is Leviticus 17:11 “Life is in the Blood.” You can see how important this is even in reading about it in Genesis 9:4. “Life is in the Blood,” is best demonstrated when God says to Cain…after Cain killed Abel…”Cain, your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” I didn’t know that blood has a voice. Think about that. That paints a clear picture about “Life is in the blood.” The 2nd Core law that God creates is found in those same passages. “It is the blood given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.”

I don’t think there can be any disagreement with you and me on this…. God IS Integrity/Character! God is Pure.

So when God uses HIs purity through Character and Integrity to form some basic principles of life…we end up with God laws. God Laws are things that God asks of us so that when we do them we live full lives that are healthy and Character and Integrity and Pure, which allows us to stay in His presence. When we chose to not follow God’s laws then we brought the opposites of Character and Integrity and Purity. God knew this would happen. He knew we would sin. (Sin is a term that simply means to miss the mark. Think archery…aiming at the bulls eye, but missing…Sin.) God is our Bulls Eye. God IS Perfect/Integrity/Purity. And because God is Perfect/Pure He knew if we sinned, He could no longer be in our presence because of His purity. He wants you to be close to HIm all the time. He loves you that much. So in His wisdom He created a way for us to be “Pure” again. God said that if life is taken (“Life is in the Blood”), then we could be made pure again so that God could then be with us again. So in the Old Testament times, God said that if a person sins and thus is separated from God, then we could take an animal, kill it, put its blood on us and then we would be considered pure again. (Its okay to say its a weird system, but it is how God designed it.) So, be careful saying its weird! LOL

Now…to the Tweet of today. Jesus is hanging on the cross. Why? Because God determined that animal sacrifices where not working like He wanted it to work. (We are a stubborn people!) I should only speak for myself…but I’m speaking for you too. 🙂

We all have sinned which separates us from God. Animal blood isn’t doing the job in restoring us back to God. So God has to make a decision. The sin has to be paid for. What does that leave God as an alternative if animal blood isn’t working? The answer, Human blood. (You don’t even have to be a vampire for that statement to get your attention.)

This new reality puts God in a real dilemma. The Bible says that God is a God of Justice & Mercy. Justice requires payment, mercy requires no payment. God loves you so much. God understands that you will be lost to Him forever if He makes you pay your own price for your own sin, which would be Justice. Giving all your blood to pay for your sin…would kill you and God would lose you as you died to pay for your own sins. If God lost you because you “justly” died to pay for your sins, God’s mercy would go unfulfilled. But if God just gives you Mercy, then He can’t have you close to Him because no blood would have been paid for your sin, thus you are still imperfect/impure. God still loses you. So how does He solve this dilemma?

God looks to His right while on His throne in Heaven and sees HIs only Son sitting there with Him. The Father knows that Jesus helped create mankind and everything else. The Father knows that there is a Spiritual side of Jesus that most of us humans don’t fully understand. God sees the answer to the great dilemma. He sees how the price could be paid with blood and at the same time be able to completely fulfill His own Justice nature and His own Mercy nature. He literally could “kill two birds with one stone.”

God decides to command His only Son, Jesus, to leave their “gated community” and become a human, starting as a vulnerable infant, growing into a grown man while remaining perfect and then give all His life blood to pay for the price that Justice demands and yet show His favorite creation, us, mercy at the same time. Jesus pays for the sin(Justice) and we don’t have to pay for our sin.(Mercy) Then Resurrect His only son and everybody wins. Mercy and Justice are fulfilled. (I love it when a plan comes together!)

Jesus says to His Father…”Your Will Be Done.” And God planted His only Son into the womb of a wonderful young woman named Mary. I hope you know the rest of the story. If not, start in the book of Matthew in the Bible and read on!

Fast forward approximately 33 years and we arrive now at this Tweet of Jesus. “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?”

Jesus knows the answer. We do to. God put all our sin on Jesus. Every bad decision I’ve made. Every selfish thing you’ve done. Imperfections. Character-less-ness. Impurities. Integrity-less-ness. ALL ON JESUS. That is a lot of “Nasty” put on the shoulders of Jesus. With all that imperfection now ON Jesus…God, the Father, must retreat His presence from Jesus. Jesus feels it so intensely, He cries out, “Why have you abandoned me?!” I think Jesus was upset. I think He was thinking…’Geez…I came to earth, I lived as a human, I have been beaten, humiliated, spit upon, I did everything you asked me to…Perfectly!…Couldn’t you just stick with me to the very end, Father?” “Why do you abandon me now?”

God so abandoned/retreated from the sin that was on Jesus in this moment, that the Bible records that it goes DARK for three hours. (Not a problem if its evening…but it is NOON!) Can you imagine the News headlines? Total chaos.

In the absence of God is the presence of darkness. (I wonder if in this moment, Satan is laughing?) It seems, at this moment in world history that the devil is winning. But its all a plan that God has knit together. We are so blessed to have the Bible that gives us the end of the story now.

God has Jesus bleed out all of His only Son’s blood to fulfill His own created laws and rules. Now…I have frequently wondered about why God chose this time in all of world history to have Jesus come and die…why did He choose the era He did?. This is the timeframe where the Roman Empire was ruling the world and their death sentences where horrifically cruel…brutal. He could have chose to have Jesus come more in this time frame. Lethal Injection or the Electric chair seem less cruel and unusual as a death sentence. Why did He God choose the era where Crucifixion was the form most used? (A guess?…God knows that we are drawn towards the dastardly, bloody, vicious story. Its why traffic slows down when an accident happens…everybody is trying to get a peak at the bloody scene.) This scene where Jesus is brutalized, will forever be branded in our brains and memory banks. It happened 2000 years ago…here we are still talking about it! So….

How much does God love you? How much does God love you…that He chose to do that to His one and only true son so that He may get you back?

What a huge price. God retreated and abandoned Jesus for a time, so that He may draw you back into a relationship with Him. When God had a choice to kill His only Son or Kill you to pay the price.

He chose you.

Maybe today you could show somebody in your circle of influence that kind of love. When you do…maybe they too will draw close to God.

What a purpose you have as you live today.
Show the love of God to others by being holy and pure.
Show the love of Jesus Christ by sacrificing your own will for God’s.
You’ll never be alone. God says He will never leave you. Jesus says He will be with you always.
Have a great day.


Retweeting Jesus “RT@JesusChrist #1”

Quick Intro to this project.

I am presently sorting it out, but it seems that there are 14 truly self-standing complete sentences that Jesus said in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John that are no more than 140 spaces…And not connected to any other statements He made. These are true Twitter-Like Phrases. Only 14 in the whole Bible. What does this mean? It means that if Twitter would have existed I’d like to think that Jesus would have tweeted these out for his followers to read. Some are deeply serious and some are a bit obscure. I hope you will read one a day with me as we retweet Jesus. This is not a theological thing…this is a devotion thing. When this is all said and done and you find a 140 space sentence that is completely self standing that I have missed…meaning not a part of another statement or paragraph that Jesus spoke then let me know. I’ll retweet it into this material and give you credit for the “find!” BTW…I’ll be using different Bible translations and I’ll pick the one I feel is easiest to understand. Also, I’d like to think this blog platform for this retweet Jesus project is the precursor to a pretty cool book for people to use to inspire them to focus more on Jesus’ way.


RT@JesusChrist” #1
Matthew 7:12 (NLT)

“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” JC 9

Oh, what an easy thing to say, and seemingly impossible to follow through with. I don’t even think that Jesus had an easy time with this tweet. Think about it…there were times when Jesus called people(pharisees) names. i.e. “Sons of Vipers, brood of snakes, white washed tombs.” Another time He used a whip that He hand made and used to whip people out of the temple. He must have been okay with others doing the same to Him or He would not have done these to others. Strange to think about that. He was called names and also whipped. This makes me think about what Jesus said to Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Peter…put your sword away…Those who use the sword will die by the sword.”

Do to others what you would like them to do to you.

I wonder if Jesus were living in this day and age of suicide bombers and self-mutilators if He might have worded this tweet a bit different? Because, after all, a Suicide Bomber that kills 40 innocent men, women and children actually did to others what he did to himself. A terrorist that did this brutal act of horror actually followed what we call the Golden Rule. Make sense?

Now as to whether or not Jesus would say it differently today…I don’t want to open the door of someone thinking that I think Jesus made a mistake here. That’s not my point. I am thinking that maybe Jesus…if He were living in today’s culture wouldn’t use the Golden Rule, as tweeted above, as much as He might have used what I would call “The Platinum” rule. I think the Platinum Rule, if spoken by Jesus, would read “Do to others what I have done and will do for you.”

Out of the mouth of Jesus that is a game changer. The Platinum rule seems to squelch all possible neglect and abuse from the speaker of the rule. For today, we would have to quote the Platinum Rule this way. “Do to others what Jesus did for you.”

The Platinum Rule makes the following comment from Jesus pop! “There is no greater love than this…He who lays down his life for another.” He commands us to give, share, reward, encourage, hold accountable, even die for each other. These would be things that Jesus did for all of us. These are things that fit the Golden Rule also. Do to others as you would have done to yourself.

If Jesus actually tweeted this to you today. “Do to others what you would like others to do to you.” And you knew it was directly from Jesus…how would you live your life today? Think about the free gifts that Jesus gave you. Hope, Joy, Forgiveness, Purpose, etc. Would you give these to others today? And then tomorrow as well? And then….

Spend a few moments and meditate on that. Think about what you should do today in regards to the Golden Rule.
Think about your day and what’s coming. Who do you know that you will encounter today? Make a decision right now to treat them like you would like to be treated. Be prepared. Don’t be caught off guard.

I hope as you live your day that you will dwell on this Golden Tweet. Do to others what you would like done to you. If that passage makes you feel guilty about selfish decisions in your past…ask God for forgiveness and the person you offended and then take care of today. Don’t let the past distract you from what you can do right now. Right now is more important. Today is more important than your past.

Its crazy to think that the Golden Rule sums up the Law and Prophets as the Tweet says. The law and prophets include way too many things to actually remember. 613 Old Laws from the Old Testament and then all the things the prophets said. Jesus gives us the cliffsnotes to the Law and Prophets! I like how Jesus thinks. “Do to others what I would like to have done to me.” Jesus had a way about Him in keeping things simple.

So, be like Jesus and keep it simple. When we start treating others the way we DON’T want to be treated…things get complicated.
So focus on this tweet today. “Do to others what you would like to have done to you.”

It will impact and change how you live each moment. How incredible would it be if you could remember this tweet all day every minute?

Practice makes permanent.
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