Saturday, June 8, 2013

Provide, Preserve, Protect

Leviticus 19:1-37

"Do not eat meat that has not been drained of its blood.

"Do not practice fortune-telling or witchcraft.

"Do not trim off the hair on your temples or trim your beards.

"Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the LORD.

"Do not defile your daughter by making her a prostitute, or the land will be filled with prostitution and wickedness.

"Keep my Sabbath days of rest, and show reverence toward my sanctuary. I am the LORD.

"Do not defile yourselves by turning to mediums or to those who consult the spirits of the dead. I am the LORD your God.

"Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged. Fear your God. I am the LORD.

"Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.

"Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight, or volume. Your scales and weights must be accurate. Your containers for measuring dry materials or liquids must be accurate. I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt.

"You must be careful to keep all of my decrees and regulations by putting them into practice. I am the LORD."   (Leviticus 19:26-37)

Some people think the Bible is nothing but a book of don'ts. But Jesus neatly summarized all these rules when he said to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. He called these the greatest commandments of all (Matthew 22:34-40). By carrying out Jesus' simple commands, we find ourselves following all of God's other laws as well. For Jesus, this included loving the elderly and foreigners—people routinely overlooked and taken advantage of.

If you don’t have close friends and if you don’t like your family, life will be cleaner. But you won’t get anything done in life – especially in regard to relationships. Let’s stop looking for perfection in others. Let’s drop our expectations that life with other people will be easy. Of course there will be conflict. Other people will get on your nerves and let you down and make you mad. Welcome to the human race. But we have to keep running in that race.

I suppose I could say this is when I started having wild parties and committing unspeakable sins, but the truth is I’m not that interesting. In fact, nothing about my life really changed except for one small detail: I stopped telling people I was a Christian. I didn’t seem like that big of a deal, and a small part of me had always chaffed at being the "good Christian boy," so I kept my faith quiet as I went out into my new life. I didn’t realize what a stupid mistake I’d made until much later, with a little help from the following verse,         

"Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light. ‘For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light. So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him.’ And His mother and brothers came to Him, and they were unable to get to Him because of the crowd. And it was reported to Him, ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wishing to see You.’ But He answered and said to them, ‘My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it." – Luke 8:16-21

The paradox is:

Our world is upside down. We reward the wrongdoer and we chastise the righteous. To be good is equal to being somehow deficient. Words like (virtue), (purity), and (sweetness) have taken on negative connotations. To be good is foreign or alien to the majority. The key is not to give up. The Lord will reward those who persevere in the face of persecution and frustration. God loves the pure in heart, and it is well worth it to hold on for His sake.

“And that is why God still wants you,”.“You may be battered and bruised. You may be tattered and torn. You may be crumpled and creased. But that does not change your value to God any more than what I have done changes the value of this one-hundred dollar bill.  You are still precious and valuable to the God who chose you, redeemed you, and loves you as His own.”

“He knows how we are formed; he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). God understands that we are fatally flawed creatures, yet deems us immeasurably valuable no matter how crumpled and soiled we are.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). In Paul’s day, it was customary to store treasure in clay jars. The common container disguised its contents and didn’t draw attention to the treasure within. You and I might not look like much on the outside. We may appear as common as jars of clay, but inside are hidden incredible treasures. Inside these old cracked pots reside the most incredible treasure of all...Jesus Christ. And that makes us valuable.

Read Psalm 32:1-11.

Is there any area of your heart that you have not given to God? A relationship? A past sin that you’re clinging to? A present insecurity? A future worry?

If so, I suggest you hand it over. One of the best ways to do that is to tell someone what you’ve been hanging onto and commit to let it go. (James 5:16a)


Raj Kosaraju

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