Judgement or freedom?

GraceI’ve been reading from James with a group of friends and we have been posting our reactions to various verses on Facebook. Today I felt challenged to discuss James 2:12-13.

12 So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. 13 There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you. (NLT)

Do we have favorite sins we like to zoom in on – oh yes – sins that OTHER people do? Isn’t it so much easier to recognize other people’s faults than to see our own.

Our nation gets more and more polarized every day as it moves in anti-Christian directions. And Christians are becoming more and more vocal in resisting changes – as we should be. But there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. Are we showing mercy as we share our beliefs?

I love Facebook. But there is also much not to love. Opinions fly in every direction and discussions often become heated, even between friends. I’m guilty as well. Friends have unfriended me after such discussions in the past.

We try to be cute and funny sometimes, when our words are truly hurtful. One such post I regret having put on Facebook is about April Fools Day being the atheists’ holiday. Nobody wants to be laughed at, and we don’t endear ourselves to any atheist by making fun of them. Nor will they be interested in coming to us to find out what makes our lives so much richer (if indeed they are).

The same is true of many of the posts that fly around about homosexuality, abortion, and any of a great pile of “terrible sins.” What we forget is that all sins are sinful. Gossiping. Lying. Cheating. Showing favoritism. Breaking the law – i.e. speeding. Holding grudges. Coveting. Failing to give God a full tithe. Hating anyone. There are so many sins that we too are guilty of.

Re-read James 2:12-13 in any translation. Freedom comes from showing mercy to others, not from condemning them. So unless we are leading a perfectly sinless life, we must learn how to show mercy to others.

“Here he is” or “He is here!”

14498367_sAt that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. (Mark 13:21 NLT) Read more in Mark 13:21-27 and/or Matthew 24:23-31. Note that these are Jesus’ own words.

How many of you have heard it said that it is easy to imagine the whole world seeing Christ’s second coming because of the Internet and TV? I think this kind of thinking is audacious – as if God needed man’s help to make his prophecy come true.

Are we guilty of trying to keep Jesus confined to human limitations? He took on those limitations only when he allowed God to place him in Mary’s womb, and he released himself of them when he arose from the dead. We know he was released from his physical restrictions because after the resurrection Jesus was able to walk through walls and to appear and disappear at will.

Let’s just stand back a little and reconsider just who this Jesus the Christ is before we throw any human limitations on what he can and can’t do.

Jesus was there at the creation of the heavens and the earth. John 1:3 tells us that all things were created through Jesus and without Jesus nothing was made. Colossians 1:16-17 confirms this saying all things were created through him and for him. The passage in Colossians also includes beings in the spiritual realm among the things Jesus created. It also adds that Jesus continues to hold all of creation together.

When we remember all of what God did through Jesus and that he continues to hold it all together, how can we ignore the possibility that he could let us all know at once that he is here? Re-read the passages above from Mark and/or Matthew and you will see some clues on how he plans to get our attention. Don’t you think people might notice if the stars fell from the sky? …or if the sun grew dark and the moon stopped shining? What kind of sign might appear in the sky? I’m sure that the God who created the heavens and the earth can think of something spectacular enough to make even the most wicked of sinners tremble while the elect will shout for joy in anticipation.

How many people does God listen to in prayer all at the same time? God is not limited in time and space in any way. Jesus who is God personified, is surely able to appear to all of his children at one time. Look forward to that day, and don’t be fooled by any Antichrist that comes along. If someone needs to point him/her out, it isn’t Jesus. We will just know, and as in one voice proclaim together “Alleluia” or “He is here!”

 

The Word Became Flesh

14925582_s and God said

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1 NIV)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… And God said “Let there be light,” and there was light. ( from Genesis 1 NIV)

 

How many times have I read John 1:1 and imagined the Word to be the words of the Bible? It wasn’t until recently in my years as a senior adult that I made the connection between these two verses. God SPOKE everything into existence. The first recorded Words of God were “Let there be light.”

At the risk of sounding redundant, let me write this again. “In the beginning was the Word.” (John 1:1) “And God said ‘Let there be light.” (Genesis 1) (emphasis mine)

 

And who is the Light of the world? Jesus!

How mighty and how powerful is God’s Word, in the flesh: Jesus! Don’t let this thought pass you by.

And then don’t overlook all of his other Words contained in our Holy Scriptures, the Bible.

Click on these links to better grasp the context for the passages we just discussed:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NIV) We celebrated Christmas last week. I pray your celebrations made you more fully aware of the truth in this verse – God’s Word was made flesh to dwell with us on earth. We have the unique privilege of carrying him in our hearts to be with us through every trial and circumstance we face on this earth.

In case there is any doubt about Jesus’ role in creation, consider Genesis 1:26. I added the bold type to the pronouns. Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26)

Colossian1:15-20 spells it out quite clearly. Verse 16 says “For in [Christ Jesus] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” (NIV) Use the link to read the expanded passage.