Week 31: Sin, Faith, Duty, Life

Readings for the week: Psalm 89, Proverbs 17-30Luke 12-17Psalm 90, Listen to these passages

Opening Prayer:

Dear Lord, thanks.  I mean it. Thanks for the people you’ve put in my life. May you keep them safe and guide them in their challenges. May you bless them. Thank you for the gifts you’ve given me, may I use them wisely to help others. Thanks for the provision you’ve given me, a place to sleep, food to eat. Tomorrow nags at me and says, “What about that!” But tomorrow isn’t God, you are, and you are good. May I spend today praising you and honoring you in all I do.  May I spend this week walking with you. Amen.

1. Psalm 89


2. Reading through Proverbs 17-30

What does God care about?  There’s all sorts of answers to this.

What is life about?  Sometimes people don’t care or don’t believe in God, but they have a lot of ideas about what life should be about.

God made life. God has given us life. God knows how things should work.

God also loves us and wants the best for us.

So, what is life about? What does God care about?

God wants our best and wants us to live in a way that helps us find our best in life and, get this, also helps others experience their best.

It’s about living in tune with how God has designed things, otherwise we bump into each other, causing more and more chaos along the way.

Stop doing that.  You think you know better than God? You’ve just made yourself god. That doesn’t turn out well.

You think those other people who don’t care about God know better? You’ve made them into a god. That also turns out poorly.

Humanity has a long history and it shows that left to ourselves we really mess things up, mess each other up.

God wants our best and has given us a way in life, a way toward living life in tune with what God intends.

In these chapters, God shares what is important about life, what we should care about and what we should leave behind. He’s not a tyrant or a hall monitor looking to trip you up.

He cares about us. He cares about each of us more than we care about our own selves.

Be wise. Read these chapters and listen to what we should do, who we should be.

It won’t fix everything, but it will help even those bumps and troubles in life have much more peace, much more hope, and lead us to being better people, walking with God rather than trying to be god.

Don’t try to be god. That’s a good first lesson.

A lot of other lessons, a master class in living life, are in these chapters. Some are moral lessons. Some are good sayings. Some are life hacks.  Some are warnings.

Your jaw will drop when you read what King Lemuel’s mother had to say to him!

 


3. Reading Through Luke 12-17

A lot of Christian books and movies and pop culture have focused on the end times.  From the Left Behind series to whatever crisis is the sign of the times that sells more books, gets people talking about this sign or that sign.  This isn’t new.  Every generation since the first generation of Christians has had people caught up in distractions and charlatans willing to take advantage of them.

What do we know about ‘the end’?

Jesus is coming back, just as he left. We know that.  We affirm that.

But far too much of the obsession over time and days and events is, frankly, a tool of the devil to distract the church from what it should be about.

Yes, I’m calling out a lot of ministers and a lot of people who like to think they are being faithful. I’m calling out a lot of Christian ‘culture’ for betraying the Gospel and selling out Jesus for the sake of riches, pride, or whatever else spurs it on.

There’s a lot of people who abuse the Bible while acting like they care about it, who misuse it while claiming they are “Bible-believing Christians.”

The Devil believes the Bible in the same way these people do.  He believes it and makes use of it to distort what it is that Jesus is actually about. So too, far too many (some who are well-meaning and some very bad-meaning people who take advantage of the well-meaning) get caught up in the arguments, dissensions, filling their lives with anxiety and treating the return of Jesus like it’s supposed to work like a horror movie: entertaining through fear and shock.

Meanwhile, all through the Bible we read warnings against trying to anticipate when Jesus is returning and repeated teachings on how we are supposed to live.

In Galatians 5 we read what the path of sin involves: idolatry, impurity, debauchery, sure, but also rage, selfish ambitions, envy, dissension, factions, discord.  People who indulge in these and claim the Bible inspires it are lost, on the road to death.  In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and so on.

Which means that our encounter with this life, our approach to the return of Jesus, should be characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness too! 

We can’t have a doctrine about the end of this world or the return of Jesus that runs counter to the call of Jesus in the Gospels and the work of the Spirit.  That is a doctrine that causes us to be that which we shouldn’t be.  It sounds Christian on the surface because it uses Christian terms and even uses Bible passages, but it’s an approach to God’s work that isn’t about how God has revealed himself.

“Didn’t God say…”  That’s the way of the serpent in the Garden, and that ‘wisdom’ is expressed throughout all sorts of presumably Christian teaching and has made those teachers rich through deception and chaos.

Don’t listen to these teachers. Don’t let your ears be tickled and your ego massaged into thinking you are part of the in crowd who knows.

Think I’m being too strong here?  Read Luke 12-17.  Who should we be? What should we do? How should  we wait? Those who say, “Jesus isn’t coming back,” are wrong. But so too are those who become the kind of people who Jesus won’t recognize.

Serve God by loving God, loving others, living according to God’s call in our lives, so that when Jesus returns we aren’t caught being so on edge about what will happen that we’ve ignored what we are supposed to do and who we are supposed to be.

Live with the Spirit, not against the Spirit.


4. Psalm 90

 


5. Respond

If you’ve fallen behind in the readings or haven’t started yet, don’t worry.  Reading the Bible isn’t a limited time offer. Jump in this week, and catch up with what you’ve missed in future years.

I highly encourage you to share your thoughts with others in your family, or immediate community. Talk about this stuff! 

Since I sometimes feel lonely, share your thoughts in the comment section.

Talking about your thoughts and questions is a very important part of the reading goal. Writing out our thoughts can help us remember what we read and keep our minds on the passage.

It helps to share as we learn from each other.

Our questions or confusion can bring us together, as we highlight what others may have missed or address what a lot of us are also wondering.   Don’t feel like you have to say or write a lot, or feel pressure to be profound. Respond with honesty and openness.

Just jump right in where you’re at, knowing that Christ invites you to respond without pressure or anxiety. It’s a journey not a performance.