This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner. —Luke 7:39
A friend once told me, “In my lifetime I’ve seen a lot of things change, and I’ve been against them all!” Perhaps he overstated the point, but many of us would agree that we don’t like change—especially if it involves altering our habits and attitudes.
That’s one reason Jesus was so unpopular among the Pharisees. He challenged their long-established system of good works and self-righteous living. Consider the incident when the town “sinner” entered the home of the town “saint” in Luke 7:36-50. Simon the Pharisee wasn’t impressed with the woman’s lavish display of affection for Jesus. Reading Simon’s self-righteous thoughts, Jesus immediately challenged his flawed perception of his own goodness by telling the story of two debtors—one who owed much to his master and one who owed less. “Which of them will love him more?” Jesus asked (Luke 7:42). Obviously, the one who had been forgiven more. Speaking to Simon’s I-feel-pretty-good-about-myself attitude, Jesus said, “to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little” (Luke 7:47).
The challenge is clear. Lulled into thinking how good we are, our love for Jesus wanes because we have forgotten that we too are among the ones “forgiven much.” And when that happens, ready or not, it’s time for a change!
Forgive us, Lord, for failures past,
Then help us start anew
With strength and courage to obey
And closely follow You. —Sper
When God starts changing things, He usually begins with changing us.
|Living in a World Gone Wrong
“Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” Psalm 10:1 (NIV)
By the time I returned home that night, I was so agitated that sleep was impossible.
I had travelled six hours by car and made the mistake of listening to news channels rather than my usual Christian music station. Throughout the drive, I became increasingly frustrated and irritated, as I heard one bad news story after another. My mind was spinning with thoughts, and my heart filled with emotions.
The strongest emotion by far was sadness at the stark reality of our world gone terribly wrong.
Stories of abuse, death, disaster, political corruption and a general lack of integrity are everywhere. At times it seems the voices and desires of those who are against God’s ways shout louder than those who love Him and promote His ways. It frustrates me that things are getting worse instead of better.
Driving down the interstate with my mind full of mental clutter, my heart felt heavy. I wondered what God’s answer might be if I could ask Him, “God, what in the world is going on in this world? And when are You going to take action?”
In Psalm 10, David expressed this same type of frustration and confusion. He asked the Lord why it appeared He wasn’t doing anything about the wickedness of the world, or taking control of the cruelty, violence and injustices that ran rampant through their corrupt society. He questioned why wicked people were allowed to get away with their wrongdoings.
David wanted to know when God was going to step in and do something. Anything. David prayed with a desperate heart, begging God’s intervention.
Maybe you have felt that way too. Maybe you are struggling with difficult circumstances, and you feel as if God is standing far away, not intervening with help. Maybe you have struggled while walking in God’s ways, while others with less-than-godly motives succeed. Or maybe you too are frustrated with the direction our world seems to be headed.
This is how David felt as well, but in Psalm 10:16-18a, we see his tone change from frustration to hope when he says, “The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed …” (NIV). David took comfort in remembering and believing that God was with him, and in due time, He would prevail.
In prayer, David voiced his deepest fears and honest feelings. He solicited God’s wisdom for greater understanding, yet surrendered to trusting that God sees all, knows all and would handle it all when the time was right.
Our world has gone wrong due to the existence of sin, but we have a choice in how we respond. Instead of letting despair pull us further from God, or cause us to doubt His goodness, we can choose to lean on our faith and draw closer to Him instead, just like David.
Let’s choose to proclaim God’s sovereignty today, trust in His ways and be a voice for His truths even when the ways of this world break our hearts.
Lord, help me remember that You are in control, no matter how out of control this world seems. Give me the desire to stay grounded in You no matter what I see on the news, or what challenges I personally face, and to trust You wholeheartedly. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Facts vs. Feelings
“We walk by faith, not by appearance” (2 Cor. 5:7, RV).
By faith, not appearance; God never wants us to look at our feelings. Self may want us to; and Satan may want us to. But God wants us to face facts, not feelings; the facts of Christ and of His finished and perfect work for us.
When we face these precious facts, and believe them because God says they are facts, God will take care of our feelings.
God never gives feeling to enable us to trust Him;
God never gives feeling to encourage us to trust Him;
God never gives feeling to show that we have already and utterly trusted Him.
God gives feeling only when He sees that we trust Him apart from all feeling, resting on His own Word, and on His own faithfulness to His promise.
Never until then can the feeling (which is from God) possibly come; and God will give the feeling in such a measure and at such a time as His love sees best for the individual case.
We must choose between facing toward our feelings and facing toward God’s facts. Our feelings may be as uncertain as the sea or the shifting sands. God’s facts are as certain as the Rock of Ages, even Christ Himself, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.
“When darkness veils His lovely face
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.”