Some of you who have begun reading my blog may wonder why a lot of excerpts I cite from Scripture don’t sound exactly familiar or why they happen to be so looong or what I really mean by sharing them as I do.
So, let’s talk. The passages I quote from Scripture are a little different. I have chosen to cite the texts of Scripture I include primarily from The Message — a translation of the Bible in the every-day English that would be most recognizable to us. I like this translation a lot because it regularly gives me pause. I read a verse or two in it and I can’t help but ask myself if I agree with this. The truth is presented in such a bold manner, grabbing my attention instantly with it’s passion and color, that I find that I look “strangely dim” in comparison (to use the words of a 90 year old hymn by Helen H. Lemmel). I have to ask what I am going to do with what God has spoken to me today in His Word. Either I must live by it or ignore it completely.
As I read, prayer comes easily: Lord, help me to think this way; God, show me why I doubt that You are truly like this; Father, what would my heart look like if I believed You as completely as this? Another thing that I find a joy is that I don’t want to stop. How can I close the portal when God is still speaking to me. In a typical (if you can call it that) translation I read a chapter, or a section of three or four paragraphs and I’m ready to exit. I am not glued to the Speaker. But, as I read The Message I feel like I need the whole story, the complete scoop, I don’t want to miss out on anything. Thus, I find myself reading chapters instead of just one, and sometimes whole books at a time. And I hope as I share what God is setting before me in His Word, you might experience the same zeal to know Him more. That’s the whole point of reading and sharing it, right? 🙂
I don’t expect anyone to read through a whole post, but please don’t let the length be a hindrance. The whole aim of each post is to get myself and my readers back to what God is saying to us. That is the direction for life that we need. The whole purpose of talking and questioning is the come to the point of recognizing where the Truth comes in and how He is revent to our lives. There is nothing going on in our hearts that God doesn’t know about and touch in such a way that we will grow and be filled with more love and understanding and hope — which all begins with Him, that all IS Him. So, please join me in searching His Word and learning day by day to bringing all our questions to Him, to desire what He has to say and reveal to us, His children.
Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burden’s, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you’re too good for that, you are badly deceived.
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can do with your life.
Be very sure now, you who have been trained to a self-sufficient maturity, that you enter into a generous common life with those who have trained you, sharing all the good things that you have and experience.
Don’t be misled, no one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others — ignoring God! — harvests a crop of weeds. And he’ll have to show for his life of weeds! But one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvest a crop of life, real life.
So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.
Now, in these last sentences I want to emphasize in the bold scrawls of my personal handwriting the immense importance of what I have written to you. These people who have tried to force the ways of circumcision on you have only one motive: They want an easy way to look good before others, lacking the courage to live by a faith that shares Christ’s suffering and death. All their talk about the law is gas. They themselves don’t keep the law! And they are highly selective in the laws they do observe. They only want you to be circumcised so they can boast of their success in recruiting you to their side. That is contemptible!
For my part, I am going to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. Because of that Cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate. Can’t you see the central issue in all this? It is not what you and I do — submit to circumcision, reject circumcision. It is what God is doing, and he is creating something totally new, a free life! All who walk by this standard are the true people of Israel — his chosen people. Peace and mercy to them!
Quite frankly, I don’t want to be bothered anymore by these disputes. I have far more important things to do — the serious living of this faith. I bear in my body scars from my service to Jesus.
May what our Master Jesus Christ gives freely be deeply and personally yours, my friends. Oh, yes!