January 16, 2018- Jesus Loves His Children- Luke 18:15-17, 1 Peter 5:7, Matthew 11:29-30

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People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:15-17

Innocence and trust are not valuable commodities in today’s culture. Being vulnerable is dangerous- because in this world, unguarded vulnerability will be rewarded with exploitation and broken trust.

Almost daily we hear of children being neglected and abused by the very people they should be able to trust.  Children themselves can be very cruel to other children, causing their bullied peers to close off and shut down. The world can be an unsafe place for a trusting soul or a tender, innocent one. We learn- far too early- to go on defense so we can avoid being hurt.

As children become adults we become jaded and cynical. We get rougher around the edges and thicker skinned in response to all the disappointments and stresses and heartaches we necessarily endure.

Some days we wake up and discover that the color and the wonder is gone from our lives. We don’t get excited about it being time for cartoons, or ecstatic that the weather is right to go out and run through the sprinkler. We get to the point where we are more worried about how crazy we would appear to the neighbors should we decide to run through the sprinkler. We stop seeing the beauty in the fire of the sunset, and we don’t stop to marvel at the majesty of a rainbow.  We’re more worried about the next mortgage payment or that the car is due for an oil change.  In the busyness of life we miss the real meaning of life- we miss celebrations, joy, wonder and delight.

Jesus wants us to respond in wonder and delight to His kingdom. He wants us to be open to wonder, and vulnerable to grace.  He wants us to be excited about flowers blooming and to revel in the smell of puppy breath.  He wants us to sing as though no one is listening, and dance like no one is watching.

Most importantly He calls us to love as though our hearts have never been broken.

Children haven’t learned to put conditions upon love- conditions like, “if you love me back,” or “if you stay thin,” or “if you don’t get sick.” Children love without motive or guile.  That’s the way Jesus wants us to love Him and to love one another- that all-encompassing, innocent child-like love that is a “just because” love.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

Surrendering our cynicism is a choice- it is one of those burdens we carry to which Jesus responds, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30 (NIV)

We are supposed to be responsible people. We can’t ignore the mortgage or vehicle maintenance or all those mundane tasks.  It is necessary to do things that aren’t always rewarding or fun or joyful.

However, we also can’t get to a place where our worry and busyness steal our joy.  We have to make the choice for joy.  We have to be open and vulnerable to the call of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus invites us to love, to dance, to sing and to open our hearts and minds and ears and eyes.

Are we willing to join Him?

December 13, 2016 The Fear of the Lord is His Delight, Isaiah 11:1-3

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A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
    and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
    the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    the spirit of counsel and might,
    the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11:1-3 (NRSV)

When the phrase “fear of the Lord” is used in the Bible, it should be defined as deep reverence, a respectful awe.

It’s almost become out of vogue to teach the Biblical truth that we should fear God.  Sometimes the popular teaching that implies, “Jesus is my best friend,” is misleading, as if He condones our sins or overlooks our bad habits. Yes, Jesus is our Friend, but on a far deeper level than earthly friends.  Unlike human beings who are sinful and fallible, Jesus has only the purest motives and selflessness in His love for us.  In His love He compels us to face our hard truths and overcome those things in our lives that harm ourselves and others.  His love shines through us and brings out the best in us.

Fear of the Lord is not being terrified that every thought or action leads directly to condemnation and/or hellfire. Jesus came to earth specifically so that we would not suffer the consequences of sin and death.  We do not have to live in constant fear of not measuring up or of losing our salvation. Apart from Jesus it is impossible for us to achieve God’s standards, but in Him all things are possible.

Fear of the Lord is a healthy realization that when we speak, when we pray, when we breathe and live, that it is because the I AM God Who created the universe gives us that ability.

Do we find delight in the fear of the Lord?  Is it not amazing that we can take comfort in knowing that we can talk to and walk intimately with the very God Who created the universe?