Are you more of a morning person or a night owl…a sunrise seeker or a sunset lover? I’m a morning person that loves sunrises and the house the Lord gave us in Idaho had a whole bank of windows facing East …and I enjoyed every early morning there as the sun would peek up over the mountains. So when we decided to move back home I was hoping for the same setup, but because our house sold so quickly in Idaho we ended up buying a house sight unseen. I was somewhat dismayed when I toured the house the first time, for there wasn’t the early morning light I had wanted…but God had another plan. But it wasn’t until we actually moved in that I discovered our new home was located on Sunrise Street! This verse tells of the time when we will no longer need the sunrise or the light of the moon, for the Lord Jesus Christ will be our everlasting light. He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, (Revelation 7:17) and gladness and joy will overtake us as sorrow and signing flees. (Isaiah 35:10)
Only God can pardon sin, (Luke 5:21) and we are told in Colossians 3:13 to, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” But what if the biggest culprit is yourself? What if guilt, shame, invalidation, and fear has piled the offenses up against yourself so high you can’t see anyway of forgiving yourself? In Matthew 18:21-35 we read the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, where the king wanted to settle his accounts. He called in a servant who owed him 10,000 talents (millions of dollars in today’s market) and asked for payment. The servant begged for time and instead the king took pity on him and forgave the entire debt. That servant then went out and found a fellow servant who owed him 100 denarii (a few dollars by today’s standards) and demanded payment. This servant also begged for time, but the man refused to listen and had him thrown into prison. When the king heard what had happened, he called the servant in and asked him, “Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” (Matthew 18:33) We are that servant who received the gracious and merciful gift of a cancelled debt from our King. In turn, we must then implement the same clemency and compassion to others…and that includes ourselves.
Springtime is planting season here in the Midwest. And the last few weeks have been very busy with farmers plowing and sowing seed (here in Illinois, it’s corn and soybeans). But all these crops depend on rain to give them a good start… for without it the seeds won’t sprout. So these rains that come in March and April are vitally important for the farmer’s bottom line and what his yield will be in the Fall. But God is good all the time and He only ever does good…including sending rain on the earth, for Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:45, “God causes the sun to rise on the evil and good and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous.” But why would He do that? It’s because He’s merciful, compassionate, and gracious to all mankind…wanting none to perish. And who knows how a perfectly timed rain storm could change a stubborn and rebellious heart.
They estimate that there are between 10 Billion Trillion and 100 Billion Trillion stars in the observable universe. That’s a 1 followed by 22-24 zeros! And God not only knows them all by heart, but by His power asserted His authority over the universe by putting them all into place…giving each one a unique and special name. Yet in this vast universe, God knows your name and every little detail about you. He knows your ups and downs, your hopes and dreams, and the desires of your heart…and He loves you with an everlasting love. So tonight go out into the dark sky and look up…and as God told Abraham, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars – if you can.” (Genesis 15:5) Those Billions of Trillions of flickering lights are how much God loves you.
Maybe you know one…maybe you are one. What am I talking about? A woman, wife and/or mother who self-sabotages and deliberately destroys her household by her contentious manner. The old saying “Happy wife happy life” is taken to the extreme as her husband and children walk on eggshells as to not evoke her wrath…the whole house becoming a war zone with land mines of rage buried everywhere. But many woman don’t even realize how they are ruining their family’s life…that’s because they are in deep personal pain and have never dealt with it. So what can be done? Proverbs 24:3 says, “By wisdom a house is built…” Wisdom seeks out counsel, addresses past wounds, and accepts responsibility for actions…and changes for the better with the Lord’s help.
Jesus had traveled to His hometown with His disciples, and on the Sabbath He began to teach in the Synagogue. Many of His fellow townspeople not only immediately recognized Jesus but when they heard Him preach were totally astonished. But why did they take offense at Him? Several reasons. First, Jesus was bringing the Gospel Message to them but they rejected Him and it from lack of faith. And secondly, they rejected Jesus because they saw Him only from their past recollection of Him…not for what He had become. This can happen to anyone of us. People will only remember us as the quiet, shy wallflower, or worse yet the kid that was always getting into trouble…not the person God has radically changed by His grace and mercy standing before them. Sadly, the people’s taking offense became a stumbling block in not allowing them to hear the truth from Jesus, and the reason they fell away.
Sixteen long years passed between the laying of the foundation for the Temple in Jerusalem and when work resumed. This became difficult and arduous years for His people as they waited on the Lord to move on their behalf. So my question for you today is…has the Lord ever made you wait? Now for me, I usually become impatient, my waiting becomes a time of whining, my grumbling gives way to discouragement, and eventually the delay fades into feelings of defeat. But waiting on the Lord is in of itself a very special time if we will look at it from His perspective and not ours. During this time we can determine within us to grow not grumble and persevere not protest. We can regard our waiting with readiness and expectation as we abide with our Heavenly Father knowing that His timing is always perfect.
Theses verses beg one question…What is your motive for giving or what causes you to act when you see a need? Consequently then, our motive will be wrong if the only reason for giving is a desire for admiration and honor from our peers. For Colossians 3:23 tells us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…” Thus, when our charity and compassion for others come from the right motive…it truly won’t matter if anyone knows.
Here we see God’s contempt for the making and worshipping of idols…a spiritual adultery or apostasy as we betray our loyalty to the Lord and instead build altars to false gods. Now these altars don’t have to be physically built of stone, wood, dirt, or bronze…they can be constructed and setup in our hearts with anything we cherish more than God. It can be anything, like a shoe or purse collection, or a new car or boat that can become a altar that you worship at if it’s more important to you than your relationship with God. So just remember, when God’s jealous anger is provoked…His indignation and exasperation is stirred to a boiling point…His wrath will be poured out.
In these verses Jesus is speaking of the Holy Spirit…assuring His disciples that the Counselor would be coming, exposing the guilt of the world. And when He came, He would lay bare the man-centered world-view that ignores or even denies eternity and views our existence only by material standards and selfishness, greed, power, lust, and ambition. That’s why the Holy Spirit is excellent at showing us right from wrong using one of His most powerful attributes…His compelling, decisive, and relentless conviction. The conviction of the Holy Spirit is determined and unyielding…cutting to the quick in the deepest, darkest reaches of our soul…for He knows everything and will doggedly shine a glaring bright light on our sin until we relent. For if we’d be honest with ourselves, we don’t need the Holy Spirit telling us something we already know…there’s unrepentant sin in our life.