In one breath the Lord admonishes us to hate evil, in the next, He teaches us to love one another and to love our neighbor as our self. So how can we love someone who’s immoral and unethical behavior goes against everything Godly we stand for? Or how can we show love and compassion to someone who flippantly thumbs their nose at God? It’s all about separating the sin from the sinner. We are to hate the sin but love the sinner. We can abhor the sin, but still show true affection…we can detest what’s happened to the person, but still remain devoted in friendship…we can loathe the mess they’ve gotten themselves into, but still love the person we know. By hating the sin and not the sinner, we show the true love of Jesus Christ and the truth of the Gospel.
If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time you know to take your emergencies to the Lord. But what about the good things you’re doing for Him? Do you feel overwhelmed with responsibility and stressed in your ministry? Or is the Lord pushing you into new directions and you’re resisting out of fear and doubt? This verse says to cast your cares on the Lord…all of them. Think of it like a oxen yoke with two oxen shouldering the work together…each pulling in the same direction. Give your concerns to the Lord – whatever they are…work as a team, and see His glory revealed.
Most of us have a very short attention span. So attempting to understand the concept of forever more can be mind-boggling. We can’t stay focused on something for 15 minutes, and this verse tells us to praise the Lord for an indefinite, limitless amount of time! But if we think about forever more in another way…someday we’ll find ourselves in the very Throne Room of God singing in the heavenly choir, “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13) …and time won’t matter anymore, for we’ll be in the presence of the Lord.
The whole of mankind hoped with eager anticipation…awaiting the promise of the fulfillment of the coming Messiah…only to watch Him die a terrible and horrific death on the Cross. The day after that shocking event, the human soul was holding its breath…struggling to remember the words of Jesus while despair tried to crowd out any shred of hope. Human life hung in the balance between hope and hopelessness that fateful day. But God is the God of hope, (Romans 15:13) and we have this hope as an anchor. (Hebrews 6:19) So if today, you’re facing the impossible, the incurable, the irreversible…put your hope in God and fix your eyes on Him. For if God can raise Jesus from the dead, He can breathe life into your sick, dying body, revive a struggling marriage, or break the chains of addiction off a loved one. For as long as there is hope, there’s life.
There is much to be said about gathering together as a Body of Believers to worship our Heavenly Father. Whether it be in a huge sanctuary, or a quaint clapboard place of worship, or the darkened confines of an underground Church …it’s a chance for all come together. But that’s not the only “house” that God lives in…for the Lord’s spirit lives within us. (I Corinthians 3:16) And Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three come together in My name, there am I with them.” So if you think about it, we don’t need a “Church building” to have the Lord among us. We simply need to come together in His name. For when we do, God will act, according to His character and purpose, on our behalf.
If the Lord Almighty is defending my cause…why do I always feel compelled to justify or explain myself? If God is contending for me in a dispute…why do I need to somehow prove myself right also? St. Augustine was correct when he prayed, “O Lord, deliver me from this lust of always vindicating myself.” We have this fleshly desire to be right…to explain ourselves away until everyone finally agrees with us…but if you look at Jesus teaching among the crowds, He never explained anything or made excuses for Himself. He left the misunderstandings and misconceptions of others to correct themselves.
Humans are funny…we get caught in something, and we’re sorry…not sorry for what we did…but rather sorry we got caught. We make a big emotional show…but there’s no humility or remorsefulness involved in our actions. Psalm 51:17 reminds us of what God really wants from us…not a showy display of emotions that look good to those who are watching, but lack the brokenness of spirit that comes from a truly regretful heart. Rather, God desires from us authenticity, humility, and taking responsibility for our actions.