Covered Over in His Love

Story of the Day for Tuesday October 4, 2011

Covered Over In His Love

 

                    “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in kindness.  He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his wrath forever.  He does not treat us as our sins deserve nor repay us according to our crimes. 

Psalm 103:8-9

 When God looks at the wreckage we have made of His beautiful world, how should he respond?   He responds with anger.

We are slightly embarrassed by the countless biblical references to God’s wrath.   But our problem stems from thinking God gets angry for the same reason we do: wounded pride, vanity, selfishness, an ugly mood.

God is angry because He is good.  Anger is the proper response to evil, and God is justly angered by all the sin and injustice on this planet.  A loving and good God will not allow evil to claim victory.

 

But all this talk about God’s anger and wrath is Old Testament stuff, right?  Wrong.  Paul, especially, speaks repeatedly of God’s anger — both his present anger on evil and the coming day of His wrath.

Yet, what if God Himself could suffer the punishment for the evils we have committed?   What if God did exactly that by taking on human form and walking to the “Place of the Skull” to suffer in our place?  This is the message of good news.  Jesus has suffered the anger of God in our place.

 

Prairie fires often hit fast and devastate farmlands.  Once, a grassfire swept through a farm on the plains.  When it was over a farmer’s land was nothing but smoke and blackness.  As he walked out back to survey the damage he saw the charred remains of a hen.  He kicked the hen over and couldn’t believe what he saw.  Out from under the hen popped several little chicks.   The mother hen covered her chicks with her body to shield them from the fire.

Jesus is our refuge from the wrath of God.  Paul says that God’s anger is poured out on all those who refuse that refuge.  But, in Romans 5, he says, “Since we have now been declared ‘Not Guilty’ by [Jesus’] blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him.”

When we trust in Christ’s sacrifice for us, we need no longer fear the anger of God.  We can rest secure in his forgiveness.

So, think of what this means?  We have not acted rightly toward God.  He ought to be angry and seek vengeance.  Instead, he forgives.

 

Already in the Old Testament, the Bible speaks these words of comfort, “He does not treat us as our sins deserve, or repay us according to our iniquities.”   He has covered them over in His love.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

Refusing to Return the Insult

Story of the Day for Monday October 3, 2011

Refusing to Return the Insult

                    When they insulted Jesus, he refused to return the insult. 

                                                                1 Peter 2:23

 I know a guy who wears a grumpy face and looks like he just flunked out of Charm School. When I smile at him and say “Hi,” he normally just scowls and says nothing.

 

While driving through northern Wisconsin, I was listening to the radio and was jolted by the words of a Jewish man who survived the Nazi holocaust.

After Hitler’s regime collapsed, some Jews were intent on seeking vengeance against the Nazis. They were plotting how to torture those who had worked under Hitler.

But the Jewish holocaust survivor on the radio said he would meet a fellow Jew and ask, “Do you like the Nazis?”

“Like them!” the other man would spit back, “I LOATHE them!”

“Then, why do you want to be like them?”

 

When we lash back against those who have hurt us, we inevitably begin to resemble the ones we’re angry with. “They hurt me.” we conclude. “Well, I’m going to give them a taste of their own medicine.”

We become like the ones we hate.

We may not be aware of it, but when we fall into this way of thinking, we surrender our freedom to decide how we will behave. We relinquish that prerogative to those whose behavior we find disgusting. If they’re snotty to us, then we’ll be snotty to them.  But we must understand clearly: our adversary is now the one calling the shots.

 

Jesus never let others dictate how he would behave. When they hammered his body on a cross, his enemies smugly assembled to taunt him and enjoy their triumph. But Jesus refused to trade insults or make threats.

Jesus’ enemies didn’t choose his behavior; he did.

 

Michael Green tells a story that goes something like this: A man goes to a newsstand to buy a paper. He politely asks for a daily newspaper and the man working at the kiosk rudely shoves it at him and, muttering, hands him his change.

As a friend observes all this, he asks the man as they walk away, “Does he always treat you so rudely?”

“Yes, I’m afraid so.”

“And are you always so polite to him?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Why are you so nice to him when he’s so rude to you?”

“Because I don’t want him to decide how I am going to act.”

 

My sour-faced friend may never smile and return my greeting. He doesn’t have to. He doesn’t get to decide how I choose to behave.

                                     (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

The Wonderful People

Story of the Day for Saturday October 1, 2011

The Wonderful People

                    Don’t judge by how things appear. . . 

                                                                   John 7:24

 While waiting for her flight, a woman bought a book and a package of cookies and took a seat in the airport terminal.  As she was reading she noticed the man sitting next to her began fumbling with her cookies.  He opened the package and helped himself to one.  She couldn’t believe it!   Not knowing what to do, she reached over and grabbed one of her cookies and started to eat.  And then it happened again, he grabbed another cookie.  The woman was not about to let a stranger eat all her cookies so she grabbed another one.

With one cookie left, the stranger broke it in two, gave her half, and walked away.

Still fuming, she reached into her purse to get a tissue and . . . there was her unopened package of cookies.

 

As a matter of fact, I have developed a cool theory based solely on judging by outward appearances.  I think I can tell how liberal or fundamental a congregation is by the shape of the cross on their church.

If you see a church with a big, fat cross: they’re probably fundies.  They usually don’t paint their cross, but if they do, it’s black.

The loosey-goosey liberal churches have really skinny crosses.  They’re usually made of metal.

If the cross is real ornate, that means the church is probably real stodgy and ritualistic.

And so on.

I know I’m not supposed to judge churches simply because of the kind of cross they put on their church.  But I do.

 

Do you do that kind of thing?  Do you ever find yourself judging the character of someone based on the length of their hair or how they dress?

What do we do about that?  After just confessing my habit of judging the theology of congregations on the basis of their church crosses, you’re probably not looking to me as the ideal source for advice on this topic.

I’m not the ideal source, but here is what I do.  I haven’t learned to stop making judgments about people based on appearances.  Some day, I hope I will.  But until then, what I do is learn to recognize those areas where I tend to draw hasty conclusions, and then go out of my way to prove my initial judgment false.

 

Today I picked up a hitchhiker. Hitchhikers, as we all know, are bums who are either too lazy to work or losers who lost their driver’s licenses from too many DUIs.  (Are you getting the picture here?)  So, my goal is to prove how wrong my assumptions are.

Guess what?  I’m discovering that most hitchhikers are kind, or down on their luck, and are humbly grateful for the ride.  The guy I picked up today broke his back and is strengthening it by riding his bike.  But it hurt so bad that he had to leave it at a car dealership and hitch a ride the rest of the way to town.

You wouldn’t believe the wonderful people I’ve had the pleasure to meet since I started treating people this way.

                                       (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)