Have you ever noticed that God's commandments are often impossible to fulfill? Love your neighbor as yourself. Love your enemies. Go and sin no more. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.
One of the beautiful realities of living in a cosmopolitan city like Boston, is the privilege of interacting with people from all over the world. If you spend significant time with people from other countries, you soon realize that different cultures approach the idea of "being on time" differently. Western cultures tend to be "monochronic" in that they view time as linear, with a definitive beginning and end. Time is viewed as limited in supply, so we structure our lives by milestones, deadlines, and hard schedules. Because time is viewed as a commodity, we have expressions like "waste time" or "lose time" or "time is money." These cultures like to do one thing at a time and therefore are irritated by interruptions. Being more than 15 minutes late to a meeting is deemed disrespectful and an apology is expected.
Why is change so hard? Why are old habits so hard to break? Researchers like Ann Graybiel at MIT have found neurological reasons, and the evidence is not that encouraging. Even after quitting a bad habit, and rewiring our brain with a new one, the old habit haunts us like a ghost, waiting for the right conditions to leap back into action.
When you think of the commandments decreed by God, which ones immediately come to mind? Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not covet. Rejoice. Give thanks. Pray without ceasing. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. Love your neighbor as yourself. These seem like the big ones. These are the ones that should be highlighted over and over, right? Of all the commandments issued in the Holy Scriptures, which commandment do you think is repeated most frequently?
If you hate being in the dark, living in London during WWII would have been a nightmare. The British Air Ministry correctly predicted that Hitler’s Luftwaffe (air forces) would bomb the cities of the United Kingdom by night, so they strategically decided to hide in the dark, literally. The British government issued an edict to have all the lights turned off in London, and eventually everywhere, to hide the cities from aerial view, leaving the Nazi bombers flying around in the darkness, unsure of where to drop bombs. On August 11, 1939, two days before the war started, the whole country went black.
We are losing our ability to listen, for three primary reasons. First, we live in a world of cacophonous noise pollution, coming at us visually and auditorily from every-which direction at a breathtaking clip. Second, since we've invented ways of recording just about everything with audio and video, the premium on accurate, careful listing has simply disappeared. Third, we all have emotional filters, or biases, through which we unconsciously screen what we're actually paying attention to. The more important the subject matter, the stronger the emotional power of the filter over our hearts.
Did you know the God longs to bless you? He takes delight in prospering His people (Dt. 30:9). God doesn't dish out his blessings begrudgingly or miserly. He's not penny-pinching with his blessings. Moreover, He isn't just waiting for us to come and beg for blessings. He is eagerly and enthusiastically pursuing us to shower us with His blessings. This, in fact, is the literal translation of Psalm 23:6, "Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life." God is incredibly generous with his blessings. "Well, where are these blessings?" Many of us miss God's blessings, because we misunderstand true blessings.
This Sunday, we are excited to have Pastor Ivey Rhodes, Lead Pastor of Mosaic Boston Jamaica Plain, bring a powerful word from God about living a lifestyle of worship. We love Pastor Ivey and his family, and we're praying for the Holy Spirit to continue working powerfully through him and Mosaic JP to reach the tens of thousands of people living in JP without salvific knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
If we are meeting tomorrow, along with worshiping our great God together, and gathering with His saints, we'll open the Holy Scriptures to meditate on the Spiritual Rhythm of Community. When Scripture talks about community, it doesn't talk about a social club of peers or a Meetup interest group. Godly community is Gospel-centered community on Mission with God, for His glory! The early church committed (devoted) itself to gathering together corporately, and in small groups in homes for studying the Scriptures, prayer, and fellowship.
One of my absolute favorite Scripture passages is when Jesus and his disciples get "caught" in a storm. As the ferocious winds tossed them mercilessly to and fro, and water started filling the small boat, the disciples are freaking out. And what was Jesus doing? Taking a nap. (?!) They frantically wake him with pleas: "We're perishing" and "Don't you care?" Jesus, probably still a little groggy and somewhat annoyed that they disturbed his pleasant nap, gets up and calms the storm. The Gospel writers don't say what came next, other than the disciples being dumbstruck by what just happened, but I bet Jesus went straight back to sleep, because sometimes, the most spiritual thing we can do is take a nap.