Playing by the rules

Kids playing Uno

If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus (Matthew 12:7-14).

A young student was showing me how to play a game that I hadn’t played before. It was fun, but then I thought a rule that had been set was changed. I thought maybe I had forgotten, but then realized that the rules were being altered as we played to the advantage of the student who wanted to win. There seems to be power in knowing the rules.

We are a society that loves to have rules. We may not admit to that, but there is a feeling of empowerment when we know exactly what we need to do and when we need to do it. In fact, we will fight for our rules because that is what we know and how we identify ourselves. The problem here is that we tend to focus on the rule as our master, and are blinded to what God truly has for us. When God is put on the throne in our lives rather than the rule—things change. Obviously, rules are good to have or we would have total chaos, but Jesus offers a freedom that allows us to learn from him. He is a God of order and offers true shalom for our lives.

Prayer: Jesus, you are the one who knows the best way for me to go. I pray that as I seek you, that my obedience to you will bring the peace only your can bring.  Amen

Faith Tip: Is there a rule in your life that has you tightly bound? Look to Jesus for freedom and peace in that rule. Jesus doesn’t say to go against the rules, he says to follow him.

Only one way

Moses with the tablets of the Ten Commandments...

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And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared:

   “You are a priest forever,
   in the order of Melchizedek.”

The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. (Hebrews 7:15-19)

Mary looked longingly at the new car her neighbor just purchased. She wondered how she did it. She works part time, but is that enough for her and her husband to afford a new car? Mary thought of her own car in comparison and knew hers was less. How great it must feel to get behind the wheel of a new car, she thought. She sighed and went back to her work.

Coveting is one of those commandments we are not to do. Sometimes we find ourselves in the midst of breaking one of the laws or another. That is why in Hebrews it says that the law was weak and useless, because it did not make us perfect. The law does show us how imperfect we are and how much we need our high priest, Jesus, to make us perfect. It was by his death on the cross that we are made holy. There is no other way. We live a better hope because of Jesus drawing us closer to God. That’s something to praise about today!

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the laws of Moses you have established to show us how we should live. Forgive us for the times we fall short. Thank you for the grace and mercy you give us through Jesus. Amen

Faith Tip: Reflect on the true gift of the cross. Hold a cross in your hand or draw a cross and meditate on its meaning.

No Lone Rangers

Bown Brook, NJ, September 18, 1999 -- Port Aut...

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“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)

The police are at the neighbor’s house again. It’s the third time this month, and you wonder if it is going to end. Is it the eldest son again or another child? You hear the yelling through the night. They always communicate with loud voices. There is someone being led to the police cruiser in handcuffs. The mother is crying. The smaller children stay behind in fear. You can’t imagine how people can live that way. You are thankful for your stable family. You go to church and pray and….wait…what was that? You feel something tugging at your heart and mind. Jesus is knocking. Now the choice is yours to let him in or not. If you let him in, he’s going to want you to do something out of your comfort zone…you just know it.

Fulfilling the law of Christ means to love God with your heart, soul and mind and to love others as you love yourself. This means helping each other along the journey for none of us is above the other. We all need help. None of us were meant to be Lone Rangers. Don’t be afraid to answer the door when Jesus comes knocking.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for always being there for me. I pray that I will always open the door and allow you to work in me for your kingdom purpose. Amen.

Faith tip: Ask God to help you see others as he see them.