Fear Makes Us False Prophets 

S (Scripture): Mark 15:29 Those who passed by defamed him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save yourself and come down from the cross!” 31 In the same way even the chief priests – together with the experts in the law – were mocking him among themselves: “He saved others, but he cannot save himself! 32 Let the Christ, the king of Israel, come down from the cross now, that we may see and believe!”

O (Observation):  A perceived sign of weakness is seen here in Jesus, who chooses not to remove himself from the cross.  Jesus is derisively called the Christ (the Messiah).   This ridicule shows the folly of the mockers, for Jesus is indeed the Messiah…albeit a different Messiah than expected.  

This Messiah chooses to embrace the judgment of the world in order to overcome the judgment that humanity has doled out…to show the folly of this type of judgment…to show mercy to the world, which doesn’t deserve it. 

Jesus undercut the powers of the world by allowing himself to be turned over to those powers, and ultimately, overcoming those powers through the hope of the resurrection.  

A (Application):  Fear makes us false prophets.  Fear make us see a future that will most likely NOT occur.  Jesus ended up on the cross, because people feared that Jesus would tear apart their religion for the worse.  Well…they were right about one thing: Jesus would tear apart their religion…but only in order to set it back on the right track.  

We fear much in regards to our religious views, because our world seems like it will be torn apart.   This means we need much in the way of vision, time, and grace, for God to work in us.   

We may mock the way Chrisitan leaders move us and challenge us to love our neighbor, but when we do, let us keep in mind Jesus on the cross.  His suffering served the purpose of overcoming our fears and our sins…and to set us on the path to mercy and love.  

What is challenging you today?   How is Christ’s mercy renewing you this day?

P (Prayer): Lord, when we mock, extend your mercy.  When you tear down our earthly notions, build us up with your Spirit.  Amen. 

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Hope Hijacked

  

S (Scripture): Jude 1:3 Dear friends, although I have been eager to write to you about our common salvation, I now feel compelled instead to write to encourage you to contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. 4 For certain men have secretly slipped in among you – men who long ago were marked out for the condemnation I am about to describe – ungodly men who have turned the grace of our God into a license for evil and who deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

O (Observation): Jude is following Peter as an overseer of various churches.   He wants to write about their “common salvation,” the Gospel that joins Jew and Gentile alike, but now he must address the issue of false teachers.  

Their message has been hijacked!

Has someone actually outright denied Jesus as Lord?  Probably not. But that may be Jude’s interpretation of what’s happening. 

A (Application):  What does American Christianity look like?   Does it look like the words and actions of Jesus?  If not, then I’d say, “Houston, we have a problem.”

Of course Christianity in America is SO diverse, but the central point of God’s grace rings true for all.  Grace saves.   How and when we can receive this grace is the subject of much debate, however.  

For me…

I feel like our hope in Jesus Christ has been hijacked, with all of the terrorist attacks of late – and as I write, I’m just learning about the hostage situation in Mali; some 130 held hostage.  

I believe that we are called to defend the weak and helpless, support them, find them shelter.   But so many are afraid.   

Many Christian folks want closed borders and to live in fear.  Don’t we have a better way?   Yes, I love my family, and my neighbors, but I will not live in fear.  Should I (or they) die at the hands of terrorists, I / we would be that much closer to meeting the Maker face to face.  As such, I will not lose hope.   

Should we resist evil?    Yes.  How?   That’s the tough part.   The quick answer, by Christians and non-Christians is to take up arms and return violence with violence.  

Perhaps we should…but this worldly resistance we bring has its limits.   Collateral damage will occur.  Innocent lives will be lost during retaliatory strikes.  And the ideal of terrorism will not die with terrorists.  The ideal will live on. 

And so will we…with hope.  

Hope has been hijacked by false teachers and terrorists and television and news stories.  

But every morning, as I go through these devotions, I read of a God who is doing great things, has done great things, and will do great things.   I read of God’s people doing well, getting off track, being saved.   Over and over again.   

I live in hope.  And I thank those who protect me from terror strikes and protect our country.  But let’s not lose sight of the fact that our God does more for our protection and salvation …

John 11:25 – Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die”

P (Prayer): Lord, keep us steadfast in our faith toward you.  Amen. 

Truth?  We Are Sinners, All

  

S (Scripture): 2 Peter 2: 19 Although these false teachers promise such people freedom, they themselves are enslaved to immorality. For whatever a person succumbs to, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if after they have escaped the filthy things of the world through the rich knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they again get entangled in them and succumb to them, their last state has become worse for them than their first. 

O (Observation):  Peter continues to rail against false teachers some more.   This time, he works on the immorality of these false teachers, how they will return to their immoral behavior time and again.  

A (Application): The truth of these words to me are not about how I can differentiate between myself and other people…but about the fact everyone one of us – Christian or not – struggles with these issues.  We all desire to do that which pleases us, and we return to that sinful behavior time and again.  

What do we do with this?  We repent and believe that the Kingdom of God has come near.   We pause and reflect on our own sinfulness and seek God’s mercy. 

I could us this text to put myself on the opposite side of those that Peter talks about here, but I just can’t go there.   Too much of my sinfulness is on “repeat” for me to put myself above another. 

And yet, I feel that Jesus is the one that keeps me going.  Jesus is the one that catches me when I fail.  Jesus is the one to guide my steps.  He lets me fail, but he always picks me up.   He always calls me.   Sometimes I listen; sometimes I don’t. I’m not proud of that, but that is truth.  

I just hope that my God is bigger than my failures. 

How about for you?   In which camp are you?  Christ-follower?  Sinner?  Both???

P (Prayer): Lord, keep me in your care, sinful being that I am.  Amen.