Saturday, March 21st

Saturday, March 21st

What can we bring to the Lord? Should we bring him burnt offerings? Should we bow before God Most High with offerings of yearling calves? Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins? No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God .... Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people? You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love. Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean! You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love as you promised to our ancestors Abraham and Jacob long ago. Micah 6:6-8, 7:18-20

I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6

You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires .... Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. Colossians 2:20-23, 3:1-4

When we view that which God requires of us as a list on things we need to accomplish, it turns our lives into a performance and that is a huge problem. Sooner or later our lives will be all about pretending. Acting is all about pretending to be a character in a story. The best actors are those who go to great lengths to become (in some sense) the person they are portraying. But in the end they are still pretending. Micah above says, "walk humbly with your God." Hosea above says, "I want you to know me." And Colossians above says, "you have been raised to new life with Christ." Our calling is so much more than trying to live a certain way. It is about a relationship with a living Savior. As we walk with Christ, know Christ, and let his life become our life, we will experience new life. We receive the forgiveness of sins that Christ offers so that we become holy temples where Christ can dwell through his Spirit. He then lives in and through us "the life" we are called to live.

Perhaps the religious leaders we have been looking at in the Luke 5 passage and many other passages this week started out really wanting to please God. But if they did, they certainly didn't continue that way. When we live by rules we become ones who focus on the external and foget the internal. As we focus on the external we become selective about which requirements of God we will pay attention to, we reshape the requirements we select in ways that suit us better, and we make up our own requirements (rules). As we build our little religious system (religiousity), our lives become more and more focused on performance and appearance and the result of this is that we neglect the weightier things that God requires of our lives (justice and mercy) and we yield to secret hidden evil practices (because the internal no longer matters to us).

Colossians above says you have died to all this and that Christ has set you free from following rules. It also says that your life is hidden with Christ in God. Christ is working from the inside out because the internal matters more than anything else. When Christ is given the reins of the heart he takes care of the outside as well. The Christian life is all about "looking" to Christ who indwells us by his Spirit. Genuine faith is all about "looking" to Christ moment after moment. So, as you face the next moment ask yourself, "am I looking to him?" If not, then by faith "look" to him. Just keep doing this moment by moment and you will be walking humbly with God, you will know him, and you will experience fully the new life he desires for you. Here is something to think about in the light of all this: We all want other people to come to Christ but when we invite them to do so, from their perspective, we are inviting them to embrace life as we are actually experiencng it. If our life is about rules then we are not inviting them to very much at all. But if it's about "looking" to Christ moment by moment, then it's everything and more. This is not about being everything we need to be, but is about having an honest and living relationship with Christ who lives in us and is changing us from the inside out. When this is what we have, we have something we truly can invite people to join us in, and it is something everyone of us can do.

Lord, I simply and humbly "look" to you. I trust you to help me "look" to you moment after moment as I go forward. I look forward to getting to know you better and seeing, more fully than ever before, the beautiful life you will make of my life. Thank you, Lord. Amen

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