Jesus once said, “be quick to speak your mind, easily provoked to anger, and always ready to take offensive.” Okay, obviously Jesus never said that, but He would probably get a resounding “Amen!” from our culture if He did. It seems like people can get outraged and offended by just about anything these days. It’s a quality many people prize in themselves, but despise in others.
What is the blessed life? What do we mean when we say "God Bless America" as we'll hear over and over this week? What are you asking for, when you ask for God's blessings? How many of those "blessings" can be reduced to materialism? How many of our requests for "blessings" include jobs, money, or housing? Then, once we get those things, how long does our feeling of "blessedness" last, before we start asking for more?
Earlier this month, I was privileged to join around 8,000 women from all 50 states and 27 countries for The Gospel Coalition Women's Conference, "Listen and Live." Keynote sessions focused on the book of Deuteronomy, highlighting themes of obedience and grace; holiness and love. Workshop sessions highlighted topics from chronic illness to vocation to race to parenting, adoption and infertility.
As we read through the Gospels, we see Jesus intentionally provoking the religious Pharisees over and over, most often for their legalism. Why? Doesn't He know it makes them angry? Of course He does!
Legalism repeatedly rears its ugly head, both in the Scriptures, and in our lives. Legalism divorces law from love, commandments from covenant. The reason why Jesus deals with legalism so often, is because every single one of us wrestles with it at some point, at least to some degree. How can you discern whether you struggle with legalism? Well, I'm glad you asked!
"If you’ve been a Christian for any amount of time, you know that the Christian life is a lot like soccer. It’s difficult to know if you’re in the right place at the right time. It seems that once you’re in the right spot you have to adjust to challenges, unforeseen circumstances or difficult decisions. You’re often left asking, 'Is this really God’s will for my life? What does God want me to do? Should I be where I am?'
We're on the tail end of graduations and commencements, so this is the perfect time to be reminded of some bitter Ecclesiastes truth: It's all vanity! Sorry, not sorry.
I've done the whole graduation ceremony a few times now, and every time, I've been blind-sided by the overwhelming melancholy. Graduation is supposed to be full of joy and the deep satisfaction of accomplishment. I've made it. I did it. It's done. All that toil was supposed to be rewarded with sheer ecstasy, but instead, there's this gnawing emptiness. What's up with that? Thousands are celebrating graduations in Boston, and I wonder how many allow themselves to be honest about the unwelcome sadness.
Does God have a plan for your life? Does He have different plans like Verizon (different levels or versions)? Is there a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, etc?
If He does have a "Plan A" for your life, can I miss it? Jesus did teach us to pray, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." So if we have to pray for God's will to be done in our lives, is there some sense, some times, some ways, where I miss out on His Plan A?