Friday, December 30, 2011

Don't Worry, Be Happy.

Sermon on the Mount Cont...

After talking about not loving money Jesus said, "Therefore I tell you not to worry about your life, whether you have enough food, drink or clothing. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don't plant, harvest or store food in barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren't you far more valuable to him then they are?"

"Can all your worries add a single hour to your life?"

"And why worry about clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing. Yet not even Solomon, in all his glory, was dressed as beautifully. If that is how God clothes the grass, which is here one day and gone another, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?"
Matthew 6:25-30

I used to worry about everything. I have slowly learned from God not to worry about anything. I am still learning. When a worry comes into my head, I remember these verses and stop worrying. This has made my life much more peaceful and happy. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Two Masters.

Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." Matthew 6:24

The word used for money was 'mammon' which is a Syrian word for an idol who was worshiped as the god of riches.  The word for 'hate' in this scripture and many others means, 'to love less'.

The master of our heart should be love, and God is love. If our hearts are set on riches and possessions then our time and thoughts will be about that. If our hearts are set on God and love, we will give our time to helping others with our money.

The Bible says, "The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, craving for money have wandered from the faith..."

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Light of God.

"Your eye is a lamp that gives light to your body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If the light in you is darkness; how great is that darkness!"

As we walk we follow where our eyes lead us. Our eyes should be on Jesus. Many times he said, "Follow me." If we put our eyes on Jesus each day by prayer and Bible study then his light becomes ours.

When in darkness we stumble around and become lost. We cannot see the way to go. Jesus says this darkness is great - it is huge and swallows up our life. This is a sad picture of life without God.

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light." Ephesians 5:8

"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil." John 3:19

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Have a Treasure in Heaven.

Jesus said, "Don't save up treasures here on earth, where moths and rust can destroy it and where thieves can break in and steal. But save up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy and where thieves cannot break in and steal.  For where your treasures are, there will your heart be also." Matthew 6:19-21

Beautiful clothing was considered a treasure in ancient times. There are stories in the Bible of Achan, Joseph and the servant of Elijah of the esteem in which clothing was held. But time and moths eventually destroy clothing. Gold and silver were also treasures. Judas sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. He also used to steal from the money bag he carried for the poor.

Jesus is warning us not to love things like money and possessions. We should love God's kingdom and put our treasures there.

I read a story once of a wealthy Indian woman who went to Mother Theresa. She was converted and knew she spent too much on beautiful sari dresses. She asked Mother Theresa what to do. She told her to buy dresses that were less expensive and every time she bought herself one she should buy one for a poor woman. The wealthy lady did this and more. She gave hundreds of dresses away.

If we ask him, God will put in our hearts what we should do with our money and possessions.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Forgiveness Repeated.

Jesus said, "If you forgive others their offenses against you, your father in heaven will forgive your offenses. But if you won't forgive people, God will not be able to forgive you."

"When you fast in prayer don't disfigure yourself and let everyone see you are fasting. Hypocrites do this so people will admire them.  I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever receive. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face so only God will know. And God, who sees in secret, will reward you."
Matthew :14-18

Jesus stressed again in the Sermon on the Mount the importance of forgiveness. Earlier he spoke of loving our enemies, which would entail forgiveness. He spoke of how we should not call people names and also make things right with others before we come to worship him.

Now he talks of forgiveness in sterner terms. He says God cannot forgive you if you will not forgive. Hatred, spite and unforgiveness cannot live in our hearts along with God. These things hurt his heart of love. It may take time for God to melt our heart to forgive. He knows we are weak. But if we talk with him about any unforgiveness we have in our hearts he will change it into love.

Jesus also repeats a warning on doing religious acts in front of people in order to be admired. If we feel we should fast for a time, we shouldn't let others know in order for them to think we are holy. Our motive should be to have a clear mind to pray.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Lord's Prayer

Jesus said, Pray like this, "Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy."

 "Let thy name be celebrated, venerated, and esteemed as holy everywhere, and receive from all people proper honor." It is thus the expression of a wish or desire, on the part of the worshiper, that the name of God, or that God himself, should be held everywhere in proper veneration.Barnes' Notes on the Bible

"Let your kingdom come, let your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven."

The will of God is infinitely good, wise, and holy; to have it fulfilled in and among men, is to have infinite goodness, wisdom, and holiness diffused throughout the universe; and earth made the counterpart of heaven. Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

Give us today our daily bread.

This petition implies our dependence on God for the supply of our wants. As we are dependent on him one day as much as another, Barnes' Notes on the Bible

"And forgive us our sins as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us."

 God sees His own image reflected in His forgiving children; but to ask God for what we ourselves refuse to men, is to insult Him. So much stress does our Lord put upon this, that immediately after the close of this prayer, it is the one point in it which He comes back upon (Mt 6:14, 15), for the purpose of solemnly assuring us that the divine procedure in this matter of forgiveness will be exactly what our own is. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

"And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."

And lead us not into temptation- A petition similar to this is offered by David, Psalm 141:4; "Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with the workers of iniquity." God tempts no man. See James 1:13. This phrase, then, must be used in the sense of "permitting." Do not "suffer" us, or "permit" us, to be tempted to sin. In this it is implied that God has such control over the tempter as to save us from his power if we call upon him. The word "temptation," however (see the note at Matthew 4:1), means sometimes "trial, affliction," anything that "tests" our virtue. If this be the meaning here, as it may be, then the import of the prayer is, "Do not afflict or try us." It is not wrong to pray that we may be saved from suffering if it be the will of God. See Luke 22:42.

Deliver us from evil - The original in this place has the article - deliver us from the evil - that is, as has been supposed, the Evil One, or Satan. He is elsewhere called, by way of eminence, the "Evil One," Matthew 13:191 John 2:13-141 John 3:12. The meaning here is, "deliver us from his power, his snares, his arts, his temptations." He is supposed to be the great parent of evil, and to be delivered from him is to be safe. Or it may mean, "deliver us from the various evils and trials which beset us, the heavy and oppressive calamities into which we are continually liable to fall."

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Sermon on the Mount Cont... Jesus said, "When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites. They like to stand in churches and street corners and pray so that everyone can see them. I tell you the truth. That will be their only reward. "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Our motive for praying is important to God. Some people pray to look religious and righteous. This is the wrong motive. We should never pray with pride in our hearts.

"When you pray, do not use meaningless repetition as the heathen do. They think they will be heard if they talk a lot.  Don't be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him."

Instead of motive, Jesus is now talking about our manner of praying. We do not need to repeat our prayers over and over as they do in some religions. God knows what we need. 

ill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions,.... Saying the same things over and over again,
as the Heathens do, as the worshippers of Baal, from morning till noon, 1 Kings 18:26. This our Lord observes, to dissuade from such practices, because the Gentiles, who were odious to the Jews, used them, and the Jews were guilty of the same; had they not, there would not have been any need of such advice:
for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking; as did the Jews, who, under pretence of "long prayers", devoured widows' houses; and with whom it is an axiom, that "everyone , that multiplies prayer is heard" (h); and whoever prolongs his prayer, his prayer does not return empty; and he that is long in prayer, his days are prolonged (i): and, according to their canons, every day a man ought to pray eighteen prayers. Moreover, their prayer books abound in tautologies, and in expressing the same things in different words, and by a multiplicity of them.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gays & Churches.

I'm taking a break today on the Sermon on the Mount to write about something that is important to me. I have given my opinion on this subject in comments on other blogs so I feel I should post about it myself.

My sister is gay. She doesn't have a partner and hasn't for many years. Once when she lived in Florida, she told me she would like to go to church. I asked her why she didn't and she said, "I can't go. They hate people like me."

Is this the message we want to give to gay people? Personally, when I see Christians protesting against gays it makes my blood boil. There are thousands of sins much worse than having inappropriate sex. Why do they choose to make such a big deal out of this one? I think it is because they aren't tempted by it. Personally, I believe it is okay for gays to get married as long as they stay faithful to each other. No adultery. That sin is in the Ten Commandments.

God allowed godly men like Abraham, David, Solomon and Jacob to have multiple wives. We think that is a sin and it was. The kings of Israel were told not to have many wives, yet this was ignored. David was only punished by God when he committed adultery and murder.

We have so many different denominations in Christianity. Why? Because we can't agree on what the Bible teaches. Well, I know one thing. Jesus never turned away anyone who came to him. If he wants someone to give up a gay partner and be celibate then the Holy Spirit will convict that person. If God doesn't care about it then he won't convict that person. Why should we care what they and God decide? But then, that is why I no longer go to church because I was sick of all the condemning of others that was going on.

In my old church there were so many conditions to becoming a member it was amazing anyone was ever accepted. They wouldn't accept me right now because I am smoking and have the occasional drink.

I don't mind if you disagree with me. I don't mind at all. In fact, I know most Christians will. But I hope we could all agree to disagree and be loving to each other no matter what our beliefs. I think when Jesus talked about the kingdom of heaven being like a seed of grain that became, "first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head," it means the slow growth we take becoming more and more like God. Why can't we just accept people exactly as they are and let God worry about the growth, whatever that growth may entail.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Giving Privately.

"Be careful not to give to charity in public in order to attract attention. If you do, your Father in heaven will not reward you. So when you give to the poor, don't announce it with trumpets. This is what people do in order to be praised by men. Truly, that will be their only reward."

" But when you give to the needy, don't let your right hand know what your left hand is doing. Give your money privately. Your Father sees what you do in private. He will reward you." Matthew 6:1-4

Jesus is speaking of our motives for giving in this passage. Do we give so people will praise us and think we are wonderful people? Or do we give because our hearts are filled with compassion?

I remember once being in church and a lady who was in charge of money given to missions wanted people to stand up and tell everyone what they gave. No one did, because I think they felt it might be wrong to tell people. Not letting your right hand know what your left hand is doing means to give the money and then forget about it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Love Your Enemies.

The Sermon on the Mount cont... Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, 'Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. In this way, you show that you are the children of your Father in heaven. For he makes the sun rise on people whether they are good or evil. He lets rain fall on them whether they are just or unjust."

"If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?  Even tax collectors do that! If you greet only your friends, what more do you do than others? Even pagans do that! You however are to be complete in goodness, as your Father in heaven is complete."
Matthew 5:43-48

To love those who hate us and treat us badly is surely one of the hardest things to do in the Christian life. But we are to look at God and see how he treats all people. Jesus forgave his enemies as they were nailing him to a cross. He forgives all who ask him for forgiveness. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

I remember reading of an African-American man who got a phone call from a Klu Klux Klan member. The man swore at him and said terrible things. The African-American would tell him he loved him. After a few calls the man who called started to share about his lonely life and eventually they met and became friends. The KKK man gave his life to God joined his former enemy's church. Love can melt a heart that is full of hate.

I love what this commentary said about loving our enemies:

Love your enemies - There are two kinds of love, involving the same general feeling, or springing from the same fountain of good-will to all mankind, but differing so far as to admit of separation in idea. The one is that feeling by which we approve of the conduct of another, commonly called the love of complacency; the other, that by which we wish well to the person of another, though we cannot approve his conduct. This is the love of benevolence, and this love we are to bear toward our enemies. It is impossible to love the conduct of a person who curses and reviles us, who injures our person or property, or who violates all the laws of God; but, though we may hate his conduct, and suffer keenly when we are affected by it, yet we may still wish well to the person; we may pity his madness and folly; we may speak kindly of him and to him; we may return good for evil; we may aid him in the time of trial; we may seek to do him good here and to promote his eternal welfare hereafter, Romans 12:17-20. This seems to be what is meant by loving our enemies; and this is a special law of Christianity, and the highest possible test of piety, and probably the most difficult of all duties to be performed.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Giving and Lending.

Jesus said, "Give to  him who asks you for something. Don't turn away anyone who wants to borrow something from you." Matthew 5:42

When I lived in Vancouver, BC, there were many homeless and young people who asked for money. My mom and I always gave them at least a dollar. But the city asked people not to give because there was free food and lodging all over town and they wanted the begging to stop. So we began to say no. It never felt right - in fact, it felt awful. We both decided to go back to the way we did things before.

If someone is homeless, it usually means they have a mental condition, a drug or drink habit, abuse by parents etc. There is always a reason behind everyone's lives. No one wants to be homeless and poor. I think it is better to err on the side of love, even if we end up giving money to those who don't deserve it. This is what one of the commentaries says:

larke's Commentary on the Bible
Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow - To give and lend freely to all who are in need, is a general precept from which we are only excused by our inability to perform it. Men are more or less obliged to it as they are more or less able, as the want is more or less pressing, as they are more or less burthened with common poor, or with necessitous relatives. In all these matters, both prudence and charity must be consulted. That God, who makes use of the beggar's hand to ask our charity, is the same from whom we ourselves beg our daily bread: and dare we refuse Him! Let us show at least mildness and compassion, when we can do no more; and if we cannot or will not relieve a poor man, let us never give him an ill word nor an ill look. If we do not relieve him, we have no right to insult him.
To give and to lend, are two duties of charity which Christ joins together, and which he sets on equal footing. A rich man is one of God's stewards: God has given him money for the poor, and he cannot deny it without an act of injustice. But no man, from what is called a principle of charity or generosity, should give that in alms which belongs to his creditors. Generosity is godlike; but justice has ever, both in law and Gospel, the first claim.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Going the Extra Mile.

"If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two." Matthew 5:41

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

"And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain-an allusion, probably, to the practice of the Romans and some Eastern nations, who, when government despatches had to be forwarded, obliged the people not only to furnish horses and carriages, but to give personal attendance, often at great inconvenience, when required. But the thing here demanded is a readiness to submit to unreasonable demands of whatever kind, rather than raise quarrels, with all the evils resulting from them. What follows is a beautiful extension of this precept."

I went to bed after posting this, opened the Bible, and the first verse I read was this:

"A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull) ...They crucified him."

This is an example of how the Roman soldiers could force people to do work for them. They themselves would never have stooped to carry a cross, but they could make someone else do it. Simon's sons were probably the two men spoken of by Paul and Luke. They were believers in Jesus. Their father was compelled to carry Jesus' cross that day. He must have stayed to see Jesus crucified and hear his words. The unfair force by the Romans turned out to be, I am sure, a great blessing for Simon. I am sure he never forgot that day and was glad God chose him to carry His son's cross to Golgotha.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

If Someone Sues You...

"Whoever wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat as well." Matthew 5:40

It is amazing the degree to which we are to go to avoid conflict and bitterness. If someone sues us, we are to forgive them and give them what they want. I can surely imagine Jesus doing this. He cared nothing for money or possessions. He is our example in this as in all things. I also believe he would help us if we lost things we need. He would supply all our needs.

Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
And if any man will sue thee at the law - Every where our blessed Lord shows the utmost disapprobation of such litigations as tended to destroy brotherly kindness and charity. It is evident he would have his followers to suffer rather the loss of all their property than to have recourse to such modes of redress, at so great a risk. Having the mind averse from contentions, and preferring peace and concord to temporal advantages, is most solemnly recommended to all Christians. We are great gainers when we lose only our money, or other property, and risk not the loss of our souls, by losing the love of God and man.

Coat, cloak
The former, the shirt-like under-garment or tunic; the latter, the mantle, or ampler over-garment, which served as a covering for the night, and therefore was forbidden by the Levitical law to be retained in pledge overnight (Exodus 22:26Exodus 22:27). To yield up this without resistance therefore implies a higher degree of concession.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Do Not Resist an Evil Person.

"You have heard it said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,' but I say do not resist an evil person but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also."  Matthew 5:39

The commentaries I read said this meant to not seek personal revenge. That we should remember how Jesus acted when he was slapped on the night of his trial. He did not lose his temper. He did ask, "If I have said anything wrong, tell me what it was. But if I have told the truth, why do you hit me?" John 18:23

In the Old Testament, in the civil laws God gave the Jewish nation, God sometimes said that whatever a man did to you, then the same could be done to him. This was a law of "like for like" that later on the Greeks and Romans adopted. This was never to be done personally but by the magistrate. Personal retribution was banned.

Jesus is showing us a better way. Forgiveness of wrongs done to us may melt the heart of the person who hurt us. It may lead to his repentance and conversion. God allowed many things in the old days, but civilization had progressed and was ready for a higher standard. In old England punishment for stealing was too strict, in the old West they used to hang men for horse stealing or cattle rustling. Laws change as society changes, and usually for the better.

Like Rhonda said, God allowed certain things like divorce because of the "hardness of your heart." That time was over with the coming of Christ. He came to live a perfect life and set a perfect example so we would have no excuse to act with hatred and revenge.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Making Oaths and Vows.

Continuing on with the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, "You have heard it said to those who lived long ago, 'You must not swear an oath falsely, but you shall perform your vows to the Lord." But I tell you, do not swear at all, not by heaven for it is God's throne, nor by the earth, for it is His footstool. nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black."

"Just say a simple, "Yes, I will," or "No I won't." Anything more than this is from the evil one."

After reading some Bible commentaries, it seems that in Jesus day it was a custom to say, "I swear by my head that what I am saying is true or "I swear by my heaven I will do it."

Neither shalt thou swear by thy head - This was a common oath. The Gentiles also used this oath. To swear by the head was the same as to swear by the life; or to say, I will forfeit my life if what I say is not true. God is the Author of the life, and to swear by that, therefore, is the same as to swear by him.

Because thou canst not make one hair white or black - You have no control or right over your own life. You cannot even change one single hair. God has all that control; and it is therefore improper and profane to pledge what is God's gift and God's property; and it is the same as swearing by God himself.

Neither by heaven, etc. - It was a custom among the Scythians, when they wished to bind themselves in the most solemn manner, to swear by the king's throne; and if the king was at any time sick, they believed it was occasioned by some one's having taken the oath falsely. Herod. l. iv.

I remember as a child making oaths that I was telling the truth to my friends. Our favorite one was, "Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye!" I'm not sure why sometimes we didn't believe each other. I suppose a lot of lying was going on! Anyway, we need not use oaths to make a point.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

How Did Jesus Treat Adulterers?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us warnings about adultery. God also did this all through the Old Testament. Adultery is a grievous sin in God's sight and yet of course he forgives this as he forgives all sins.

Jesus came into contact with adulterers and prostitutes. He always treated them with the utmost respect and love. The woman he met at the well of Jacob had been married five times and was living with a man. Jesus asked her for a drink of water and then spoke with her about the things of God and told her he was the Messiah.  He said, "Whoever drinks of the water I give him will never will become a spring of water welling up into eternal life." John 4:14

The Pharisees brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus. They wanted to stone her to death and asked Jesus what they should do. He said, "If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."

No one did and Jesus said to her, "Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?" She replied, "No man, Lord." Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more." John 8:10-11

Jesus loves to help us, no matter what we have done in this life. He longs for us to come to him. "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you to me with loving kindness." Jeremiah 31:3

Friday, November 25, 2011

Jesus and Divorce.

"It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce. But I say to you, any man who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery."

God allowed divorce in former times, but men abused it. They decided they were permitted to divorce their wives for any reason. This led to women being thrown out and left in poverty. If they had children, they most likely stayed with the man. What a tragedy and abuse of women. Many became prostitutes to earn a living.

Palestinian Hebrew women were among the poorest in the world in Jesus' day. This was probably because they had no inheritance rights and could be divorced for the flimsiest of reasons. Hebrew men could divorce their wives for anything from burning the dinner (Hillel) to adultery (Shammai). Yet Hebrew women were not allowed to divorce their husbands. In a culture in which women did not survive unless they were linked to the patriarchal household, it was disastrous to be divorced. Seen in this light, Jesus' proscription of divorce is markedly protective of women. The raising of the son of the widow of Nain is another example of Jesus' compassion for the poverty of women entrapped by patriarchy.

Josephus, the celebrated Jewish historian, in his Life, tells us, with the utmost coolness and indifference, "About this time I put away my wife, who had borne me three children, not being pleased with her manners."

 "I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel." Malachi 2:16

Divorce brings pain and poverty to men, women and children. God hates anything that hurts people. He wants us to love each other, have happy homes and children. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

How Important is Sin?

"If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose part of your body than to have your whole body thrown into hell. If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body be thrown into hell." Matt. 5:29-30

Strong words.

I've never thought that Jesus was literally tell us to maim our body in order not to sin. I've never really known what he meant by these dire warnings. So, I read the commentary and this is what it said.

And if thy right hand offend thee,.... Or "cause thee to offend"; that is, is the means of ensnaring thine heart; and of drawing thee into either mental, or actual adultery; for, as before, all unchaste looks, so here, all unchaste touches, embraces, &c. are condemned. As adultery may be committed in the heart, and by the eye, so with the hand:

Pluck it out ... - It cannot be supposed that Christ intended this to be taken literally. His design was to teach that the dearest objects, if they cause us to sin, are to be abandoned; that by all sacrifices and self-denials we must overcome the evil propensities of our nature, and resist our wanton imaginations.

Okay, that was the commentary and now I am writing my opinion.

In the verses before and immediately after this Jesus is speaking mainly about adultery. Therefore we can conclude this is about adultery also. If you are looking lustfully, if you are touching lustfully, you must do something about it for lust and adultery leads to hell. (it also caused hell on earth between people)

I can remember a pastor of my church who was always hugging the women. I let him hug me a few times but noticed it seemed too long and too tight. It turned out later his wife left him because of his addiction to pornography. I once had a dentist who went to my church. When I went to get my teeth done (I was in my twenties) he would sometimes rest his arms on my breasts. I was young, I thought he must have to do that. A few years later he asked me to have an affair with him. After I went to other dentists I realized he was touching me inappropriately. 

So, first with your eyes - look away if you are tempted. Run like crazy and pray.

With your hands- keep them to yourselves. 

Sometimes, years ago when I went to social gatherings,  I have sat next to a man and if we all started laughing I would touch him to push him or give him a little slap in jest. I shouldn't have done that as he might have taken it the wrong way.

Whew! A big subject and a touchy one! But one thing about God - He will talk about everything. I like that about Him.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Jesus said, "You have heard it said, 'Thou shalt not commit adultery.' But I say to you everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

I think it would be best for me to talk about my own struggle with lust. I rarely have had trouble with lusting after a man, but there have been a few times. When I watched the James Bond movie starring Daniel Craig, I did feel lust towards him and it surprised me. I told my daughter, "I can't watch that movie again." She asked why and I told her, "That Daniel Craig turns me on!" So, for myself if I see anyone or thing that triggers lust in my heart I want to turn away and not look at it.

I worked with a man once who liked me and wanted to have an affair. My marriage was unhappy at the time. I was tempted but felt I couldn't quit my job. So, I prayed a lot about this and he was moved to a different area of the workplace. Also, God did take away the feelings I had for him. Still, now that I look back I believe I should have quit my job and trusted God would give me another one. It would have been a quicker and better way.

I do feel sorry for men because I think they have a much harder time with lust than most women. But I know God's grace is sufficient for everything and He can give us all strength of mind and purpose.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Going to Court.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has been speaking of our everyday lives and giving us practical teachings. He now continues with the subject of what to if we are going to court.

"When you are on your way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise your accuser may hand you over to the judge who will hand you over to an officer, and you may be thrown into prison. And if that happens you won't be free until you pay the last cent." Matt:5-25

In old days debtors were thrown into prison until they or someone else paid off their debts. This was common in England and in ancient days.  Many were thrown into debtors prison. Jesus seems to be giving good advice in telling people to try to make a deal with the people they owe money to before going to court. The Romans counseled their people to do this also. In other words - don't be stubborn.

 It is remarkable that this very direction is found in the Roman law of the Twelve Tables, which expressly directed the plaintiff and defendant to make up the matter while they were in the way, or going to the praetor - in via, rem uti pacunt orato. - Blackstone's Commentary, iii. p. 299. Whether the Saviour had any reference to this cannot be determined. As the Roman laws prevailed to some extent in Palestine, however, it is possible that there was such an allusion.

This commentary goes on to explain further how going to court is a violation of the 6th commandment. I found this very interesting.

Agree with thine adversary quickly - This is still an illustration of the sixth commandment. To be in hostility, to go to law, to be litigious, is a violation always, on one side or the other, of the law requiring us to love our neighbor, and our Saviour regards it as a violation of the sixth commandment. While you are in the way with him, says he, that is, while you are going to the court, before the trial has taken place, it is your duty, if possible, to come to an agreement. It is wrong to carry the contention to a court of law. See 1 Corinthians 6:6-7. The consequence of not being reconciled, he expresses in the language of courts. The adversary shall deliver to the judge, and he to the executioner, and he shall throw you into prison. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Our Relationship with Others.

"If you bring your gift to the alter (go to God in worship) and there remember someone has something against you, leave your gift. First go and be reconciled with that person and then come and offer your gift." Matthew 5:23

If we have hurt a person in any way we are to go to them and ask for forgiveness before we come to God. Our relationships with other people are vitally important to God. We are to love others as we love ourselves and show this in words and deeds.

"This shows, that acts of love and friendship are preferable to sacrifices; and that sacrifices offered up in wrath, and whilst unreconciled to others, are unacceptable to God, and of no avail."

Hubby and I say we are sorry to each other quite often. We both seem to drive each other crazy. I guess it is good for Christian growth since I have learned to pray desperately not to lose my temper with him! He probably does the same, I don't know. We do try never, ever to go to bed mad at each other and haven't done that for years. God has used our differences to teach us patience and to learn to say, "I'm sorry."

Thursday, November 17, 2011


"You have heard it said long ago, 'Do not murder.' and whoever murders will be subject to judgement. But I say to you, anyone who is angry with his brother without a cause will be in danger or judgement. If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of coming before the court. And if you call him a fool, you are in danger of hell (eternal destruction)." Matthew

Jesus was quoting the Ten Commandments where it says, "Thous shalt not murder." He is saying there is more to this commandment. Anger leads to murder; so watch out for anger. If we move from anger to calling people names it can escalate even farther. The next step is hitting them or beating them.

What our Lord seems here to prohibit, is not merely that miserable facility which some have of being angry at every trifle, continually taking offense against their best friends; but that anger which leads a man to commit outrages against another, thereby subjecting himself to that punishment which was to be inflicted on those who break the peace. (Clarke's Commentary on the Bible.)

Anger is such a powerful emotion. I've learned over the years that when I feel anger growing inside to start praying right away for patience.  I still slip up once in awhile, but God tells me when I do. He works with us and forgives us.

One time, many years ago, I lost my temper at the lady at a dress shop who was rude to me and wouldn't let me return defective merchandise. I walked to my car and God told me I had to go back and apologize, which I did. Let me tell you, it is a good lesson! God was right of course, it was wrong of me to be nasty to a child of his, to a fellow human being who was maybe going through hard times. There was no excuse. Jesus didn't yell at the people who crucified him, how could I yell at someone who wouldn't take a pair of jeans back?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Pharisees

Jesus said, "For I tell you unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven."

The Pharisees were the dominant teachers of the people during this time. They were strict about obeying the law of God. Jesus once said to them, "You clean the outside of the cup, but inside you are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee. First clean the inside of the cup and dish, so that the outside may be clean also."

The majority of the Pharisees were not truly righteous, that is why Jesus said we must be better than them. They looked good on the outside, but inside were full of evil, for they had not given their hearts to God. Some were good men however, like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea.  Their minds and  hearts were open to the leading of God and so recognized the Messiah when he came. Many priests believed after Jesus was crucified.

God said, "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people." Jerimiah 31:33

This is what it means to be more righteous than the Pharisees.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Jesus Came to Fulfill the Law.

Jesus said,

"Do not think I have come to destroy the law or the prophets. I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not an iota or a dot will pass from the law until all is fulfilled. Whoever then annuls even the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 5:17-19

"The laws of the Jews are commonly divided into moral, ceremonial, and judicial. The moral laws are such as grow out of the nature of things, and which cannot, therefore, be changed - such as the duty of loving God and his creatures. These cannot be abolished, as it can never be made right to hate God, or to hate our fellow-men. Of this kind are the ten commandments, and these our Saviour has neither abolished nor superseded. The ceremonial laws are such as are appointed to meet certain states of society, or to regulate the religious rites and ceremonies of a people. These can be changed when circumstances are changed, and yet the moral law be untouched. A general in an army may command his soldiers to appear sometimes in a red coat and sometimes in blue or in yellow. This would be a ceremonial law, and might be changed as he pleased. The duty of obeying him, and of being faithful to his country, could not be changed."

The sacrifice of a lamb is no longer necessary because Jesus became the "Lamb of God" and gave his life in sacrifice. In this way the ceremonial laws were fulfilled. The Ten Commandments still stand as the Law of God forever. If Jesus would have changed them, we would have had no need of a Savior.

Jesus kept this law perfectly for us. We cannot be saved by obeying it. As Jesus said, "Without me, you can do nothing." He kept the law for us, he covers us with his righteousness, and he changes our hearts day by day. What a fantastic God we serve!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Light of the World.

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so they may see your good works and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16

As the sun lightens the world, so Christians are to lighten the world. We are to bring God's light to others and illuminate their minds about the ways of God. As a lamp gives light in the darkness so men can see where they are going, so God's light leads them.

"...let your light shine" We don't have to work hard to shine; we are to let God's light that lives within us shine out to others. Then they will thank God for what we have done.

In Jesus' time many cities were built on hills for protection. People could see the city from miles away. It could not be hidden and neither can our works be hidden. What we do in our lives is usually plain to see, if not immediately then people will know later.

Lord, may your light shine through us. May we be a blessing to this world. Amen

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Salt of the World.

The Beatitudes are finished now, but I thought I would continue on with the rest of Jesus' sermon which is called The Sermon on the Mount.

"You are the salt of the world; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men." Matthew 5:13

Salt makes food taste good; it also preserves food. 

I take this to mean we should be a blessing to the world as salt is to food. We should be useful and a help to the world. We should taste good - be a friendly, nice person that people like to be around. Perhaps we could make the sharing of our life and our faith salty and tasty!

What if we are not salty Christians? Jesus says then our lives have no worth. A serious thing to say. 

"The salt used in this country is a chemical compound - chloride of sodium - and if the saltness were lost, or it were to lose its savor, there would be nothing remaining. It enters into the very nature of the substance. In eastern countries, however, the salt used was impure, or mingled with vegetable or earthy substances, so that it might lose the whole of its saltness, and a considerable quantity of earthy matter remain. This was good for nothing, except that it was used to place in paths, or walks, as we use gravel."

Paul said,  "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:6

May God fill us with salt. May he make us attractive to all people we meet. May our lives be beautiful, flavorful and enduring.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Persecuted.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing right, for the kingdom of God is theirs." Matt. 5:10

This is where God's mind and the human mind are vastly different. Would we say someone is blessed for being persecuted? No, we would probably say, "Oh, how terrible for them."

Good people of God have been persecuted since the son of Adam was murdered. His brother Cain killed him, "And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous." 1John 3:12

If we look at Cain and Abel, Jesus says that Abel was blessed (fortunate). I can see why this would be so. Which person in the story would you rather be?

The Romans killed the Christians in the arenas. The Catholics and Protestants killed each other in the dark ages. The Nazis killed Jews and Christians. Even today people kill in the name of God. And just as God did not save Abel's life, so he did not save millions of people through the ages.

Jesus went on to say, "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

I have to say I've had trouble understanding how a person could feel happy when persecuted. I honestly don't think Jesus felt happy the day of his death. So joy and gladness have to be more than feelings. I looked up the Greek and found a few translations of these words that make the above verse understandable for me.

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad - Regard it as a great privilege thus to be persecuted and to suffer - a thing not to be mourned over, but as among the chief blessings of life.

5463 xaírō (from the root xar-, "favorably disposed, leaning towards" and cognate with 5485 /xáris, "grace") – properly, to delight in God's grace ("rejoice") – literally, to experience God's grace (favor), be conscious (glad) for His grace

Speaking of Jesus, Paul says, "...for the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God. Consider him who endured such hostility from sinful men; so you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:2

To remember what Jesus went through, to look toward heaven and to have the mind of God in order to see how he sees; that is what is needed to have joy (regard it as a privilege) in persecution.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Peacemakers.

"Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the Sons of God."

"Those who strive to prevent contention, strife, and war; who use their influence to reconcile opposing parties, and to prevent lawsuits and hostilities in families and neighborhoods. Every man may do something of this; and no man is more like God than he who does it."

Of all the prizes from the Nobel committee, none is more respected than the Peace Prize. When they choose someone to award, that person's name is on the front pages of the news all over the world. Peacemakers are respected.

War between nations brings horrible tragedy. Thousands and even millions of lives are lost, most of whom are innocent. Wars are usually fought because people in power are evil. I am sure God hates war.

There are wars in families too. Aunt Sue won't talk to aunt Mary. Sisters are jealous of each other. Brothers fight. Spouses argue over everything. Peace is needed everywhere: in the world, between neighbors and in the family.

If we forgive an insult, don't tell others of a wrong done to us, try to bring agreement between people, then we are a peacemaker. We may not receive a Nobel Prize, but we get something far better, the pleasure and smile of God upon us. When we act like a peacemaker God says, "Those are my children."

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Pure in Heart.

My Bible commentary says when something is pure it is unmixed with anything else. Pure gold is not mixed with any other metal. It says a heart that is pure is single-minded.

Is my heart single-minded? Is God first in my life? Is my heart pure?

When I look at myself, I don't feel pure but I try not to live by my feelings. God says I have a new heart, therefore I do have a new heart and I will give my heart to him each day and let Him change it.  The apostle John says to try to live with love so that, "...whenever our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts and knows everything." 1John 3:20 And James says, "Indeed we all make many mistakes."

"Beloved, we are children of God and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." 1 John 3:3

There is an example of God purifying hearts in our family. One of my daughters had been angry at her real father, my first husband, for years. She once told me she would never forgive him for the past. But after my grandson's death she has become more committed and closer to God. After the funeral she told her father she loved him and later she told me she has forgiven him. God purified her heart.

"And God, who knows the heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us. And God made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith." Acts 15:9

It seems to me our hearts are made pure by God through hope and faith, which is our trust in God and His promises. I do trust God that he is purifying my heart each day and that some wonderful day I will "see him just as He is".

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Beatitudes - Have Mercy.

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy." Matt. 5:7

1. Compassionate treatment, especially of those under one's power; clemency.
2. A disposition to be kind and forgiving: a heart full of mercy.
3. Something for which to be thankful; a blessing: It was a mercy that no one was hurt.
4. Alleviation of distress; relief: Taking in the refugees was an act of mercy.

If we are merciful to others, God will be merciful to us. I think that is a good and fair exchange!

In the Lord's Prayer Jesus says, "And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us."

Jesus explained God's position on this very well in the parable of the two debtors. This is a short version of that story:

A king had a servant (or tributary prince) who owed him ten thousand talents ( millions of dollars). The servant begged for time and mercy. The king's heart was moved  so he forgave all his debt.

When the servant left the king's palace he came across a man who owed him one hundred denarii (15 dollars).

 "He seized him and began to choke him saying, 'Pay back what you owe.' So the man fell to the ground and began to plead for mercy. But the first servant was unwilling to forgive the debt and threw him into jail until he could pay." When the king heard this he arrested and punished the unforgiving servant.

May God give us a forgiving heart and the grace to always show mercy to those around us.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Beatitudes: Being a Good Person.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied." Matt. 5:6

When I was a child and watched movies on our little black & white TV I was always impressed with the good people in the show. I would think, "I want to be like that: brave, honest, loving, and good."

Later, as an adult Christian I still feel the same way. When I watch The Lord of the Rings, I wonder if I could be as brave as Frodo and Samwise Gamgee. Would I die for what is right? Would my faith remain strong? I long to be a good person.

Jesus says if we desire goodness in ourselves as much as we desire a cold drink and a good meal, we will get it. He will give his goodness to us. And just as we need to drink and eat food each day, in the same way we need to ask God daily for his goodness to live in us.

After we have asked, simply believe it is true for Jesus said it was. If we stumble and fall, he will pick us up, dust us off and help us keep walking in the path of goodness. "For I am the Lord your God who holds you by your right hand. Who says to you, 'Do not fear, I will help you.' "

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Beatitudes: Blessed are the Meek.

"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."

Another word for meek is humble.

Most of the  leaders of the world could not be called meek. In the business world a humble man may be looked down on.

Moses, although he stood up to the king of Egypt and led the Israelites through the desert, was called meek. He spoke to God face to face. His strength was in God and he humbly realized this. "Now the man Moses was very meek, more than any man on the face of the earth." Num. 12:3

Psalm 37:11 says "The humble shall inherit the land."

The meek in this world may never own a plot of land. Moses never did. God and Jesus were talking about our life after death when we would inherit not only eternal life but land of our own. In the old testament God speaks of how we will build houses and inhabit them. (Isaiah 65:21) Jesus said he is preparing homes for us in heaven. (John 14:2) When there is a "new earth" it will be ours. (Rev. 21:1 & Isaiah 65:1)

I found this definition of meekness from here:
This is an amazing site that has comments on every verse in the Bible. And if you can't find a verse you are looking for you just have to type in part of it and they will find it.

I know this is long, but I feel meekness is misunderstood for cowardice. Jesus was definitely not a coward. He had a very strong, forceful personality.

The meek - Meekness is patience in the reception of injuries. It is neither meanness nor a surrender of our rights, nor cowardice; but it is the opposite of sudden anger, of malice, of long-harbored vengeance. Christ insisted on his right when he said, "If I have done evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?" John 18:23. Paul asserted his right when he said, "They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves, and fetch us out," Acts 16:37. And yet Christ was the very model of meekness. It was one of his characteristics, "I am meek," Matthew 11:29. So of Paul. No man endured more wrong, or endured it more patiently than he. Yet the Saviour and the apostle were not passionate. They bore all patiently. They did not press their rights through thick and thin, or trample down the rights of others to secure their own.
Meekness is the reception of injuries with a belief that God will vindicate us. "Vengeance is his; he will repay," Romans 12:19. It little becomes us to take his place, and to do what he has promised to do.
Meekness produces peace. It is proof of true greatness of soul. It comes from a heart too great to be moved by little insults. It looks upon those who offer them with pity. He that is constantly ruffled; that suffers every little insult or injury to throw him off his guard and to raise a storm of passion within, is at the mercy of every mortal that chooses to disturb him. He is like "the troubled sea that cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Beatitudes: Those Who Mourn.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."

The word blessed actually means fortunate in the context of the Beatitudes. How can one be fortunate who is mourning?

Reading the whole chapter, it seems to me Jesus is speaking about people who believe in God. In that way those who mourn are indeed fortunate because they have God to comfort them. Those who don't believe in God must have a much harder time when someone they love dies or some terrible thing happens in their life.

I have found, through the death of my dear grandson, that God is a comfort, a help, and a deep blessing while I am mourning. He gives me hope and strength to carry on when the worst thing that could happen has happened. His grace is sufficient. I am fortunate to have him in my life. My whole family is leaning on God and his comfort abounds to us all.

Jeremiah 16:5 "I will turn their mourning into gladness. I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow."

"Blessed are they who die in the Lord from now on. Blessed indeed, says the Spirit, for their deeds follow them and they rest from their labors." Rev. 14:13

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Beatitudes.

I've been reading a book about the Beatitudes and was reading them in the Bible this morning. I thought I'd post about them for the next few weeks. The Beatitudes certainly show a deep difference between the way God thinks and humans think. I want to think like God.

Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven."

"Lucky are the Unlucky," is what Philip Yancey says about the Beatitudes in his book called, "The Jesus I Never Knew." He says:

 "In the Beatitudes, Jesus honored people who may not enjoy many privileges in this life. To the poor, the mourners, the meek, the hungry, the persecuted, the poor in heart, he offered assurance that their service would not go unrecognized. They would receive ample reward."

"The poor in spirit." Are you feeling sad, overwhelmed and unequal to your world. You are fortunate. It means you might reach out to God for help. The proud and overly self-confident don't feel a need for God. They believe they are up to any task. They think others are weak and people use God as a crutch.

I need God to be my crutch for I cannot live a beautiful life full of love without him. I cannot face the sadness of life without him. I've tried it and it doesn't work. I'm glad and fortunate to be poor in spirit.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Who Can Compare with God?

The heavens praise your wonders, O Lord
Your faithfulness too,
In the assembly of the holy ones.

For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord?
Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings?
In the council of the holy ones God is greatly reverenced.
He is more awesome than all who surround him.
Oh Lord God Almighty, who is like you?
Your faithfulness surrounds you.

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne.
Love and faithfulness go before you.

Psalm 89

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Puzzle Pieces.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed when I read the list of the "Fruits of the Spirit": Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Especially self-control. But I heard Joyce Meyer say the other day that all the things we need to be are like pieces of a puzzle. The one thing that can put these pieces together is our time with God.

Study the Bible and pray. This is our work. The work of God is to make us like himself, to give us these fruits of the Spirit.

We cannot make ourselves good in any way. God alone can give us a good heart and as Jesus said, "Without me, you can do nothing." When I remember that only God can make us good I can relax and let go of guilt and fear. I can rely on him to do it in his way and on his time schedule. But I must do my part, which is to spend quality time with God alone each day.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Our Shepherd.

Some men came to Jesus and said, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ  tell us plainly."

Jesus said, "I did tell you, but you did not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, but you did not believe because you are not my sheep."

"My sheep listen to my voice, I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish. No one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. The Father and I are one."

In the Middle East sheep follow their shepherds; they are not driven by sheepdogs or men like in the western world. Jesus does not drive people ahead of him; he calls and we either listen to his voice or ignore him and walk away. He calls and then leaves the decision with us.

I love the image of no one being able to snatch us out of the hand of Jesus. Wolves can snatch sheep away from the flock. Jesus is telling us not to worry; nothing will separate us from him and he will give us eternal life.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


"Godliness with contentment is a great gain. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content." 1 Timothy 6:6-8


Am I content with what I have? Am I content to have food and clothing and that's it.

I admit I get restless. I want to go on a vacation. I want to go to the casino and waste money for entertainment. I want enough money, not just to exist, but to have fun. Am I content when I don't have enough money? Not always.

"Make sure your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have. For He Himself has said; "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

Sometimes I am content. Those are the times I think of all God's blessings in my life. When I keep my eyes on Jesus and what he has done for all of us. When I think of Jesus' character. Those are the times I feel content and the contentment lasts for a long time.

But sometimes I become discontented. When I look at myself, my life and my surroundings I am discontented. When I look at the negatives instead of the positives I am discontented. When I regret the past or worry about the future I am discontented.

I want to be content with the life God has given me. I pray for contentment and peace. Even if food and clothing were taken away from me, I want to be content just in knowing God. In the concentration camps of WW11 everything was taken away from people and then they took away their lives. I want to be content in God even if that happened to me.

Friday, October 14, 2011

God is not a Nazi.

From The Jesus I Never Knew, by Philip Yancey.

"God is not a Nazi," said Thomas Merton. Indeed God is not. the Master of the universe would become its victim, powerless before a squad of soldiers in a garden. God made himself weak for one purpose: to let human beings choose freely for themselves what to do with him."

Although power can force obedience, only love can summon a response of love, which is the one thing God wants from us and the reason he created us. "I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." God's nature is self-giving; he bases his appeal on sacrificial love.

I remember the night I gave my life to Jesus. I was at an evangelistic meeting. I found all the facts from the Bible interesting but every night when they gave a call for people to come forward I didn't feel an urge to do it. Then one night the preacher spoke on Jesus' love. I even remember now the picture of Jesus they put on the screen. I felt in awe, I felt moved, I felt a presence overshadow me. I stood up as if in a dream and walked up to the stage and gave my life to God. His love was the one thing that drew me.