A Story to Embody: September 16, 2012

Today's Scripture readings are anchored in Psalm 19.  As I read through all of the verses I was continually drawn back to the imagery and thoughts that Psalm 19 stirred in me.  Psalm 19 starts out reflecting on the glory and beauty of creation and how it points us to the glory of who God is.  It then takes us from there to the words of the Lord and the life it brings to us.  As you read, through the passages, some of which have difficult things to say, center it on the truth of God's Word and His character.

Psalm 19
The heavens declare the glory of God,
       and the skies announce what his hands have made.
 2 Day after day they tell the story;
       night after night they tell it again.
 3 They have no speech or words;
       they have no voice to be heard.
 4 But their message goes out through all the world;
       their words go everywhere on earth.
    The sky is like a home for the sun.
 5 The sun comes out like a bridegroom from his bedroom.
       It rejoices like an athlete eager to run a race.
 6 The sun rises at one end of the sky
       and follows its path to the other end.
       Nothing hides from its heat.

 7 The teachings of the Lord are perfect;
       they give new strength.
    The rules of the Lord can be trusted;
       they make plain people wise.
 8 The orders of the Lord are right;
       they make people happy.
    The commands of the Lord are pure;
       they light up the way.
 9 Respect for the Lord is good;
       it will last forever.
    The judgments of the Lord are true;
       they are completely right.
 10 They are worth more than gold,
       even the purest gold.
    They are sweeter than honey,
       even the finest honey.
 11 By them your servant is warned.
       Keeping them brings great reward.

 12 People cannot see their own mistakes.
       Forgive me for my secret sins.
 13 Keep me from the sins of pride;
       don't let them rule me.
    Then I can be pure
       and innocent of the greatest of sins.

 14 I hope my words and thoughts please you.
       Lord, you are my Rock, the one who saves me.

Zechariah 8:14-23

14 This is what the Lord All-Powerful says: "When your ancestors made me angry, I planned to punish you. I did not change my mind," says the Lord All-Powerful.15 "But now I will do something different. I am planning to do good to Jerusalem and Judah. So don't be afraid.16 These are the things you should do: Tell each other the truth. In the courts judge with truth and complete fairness.17 Do not make plans to hurt your neighbors, and don't love false promises. I hate all these things," says the Lord.

 18 The Lord All-Powerful spoke his word to me again.19 This is what the Lord All-Powerful says: "The special days when you fast in the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months will become good, joyful, happy feasts in Judah. But you must love truth and peace."

 20 This is what the Lord All-Powerful says: "Many people from many cities will still come to Jerusalem.21 People from one city will go and say to those from another city, 'We are going to pray to the Lord and to ask the Lord All-Powerful for help. Come and go with us.'22 Many people and powerful nations will come to worship the Lord All-Powerful in Jerusalem and to pray to the Lord for help."

 23 This is what the Lord All-Powerful says: "At that time, ten men from different countries will come and take hold of a Judean by his coat. They will say to him, 'Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.' "

Ephesians 4:25-32
25 So you must stop telling lies. Tell each other the truth, because we all belong to each other in the same body.[a]26 When you are angry, do not sin, and be sure to stop being angry before the end of the day.27 Do not give the devil a way to defeat you.28 Those who are stealing must stop stealing and start working. They should earn an honest living for themselves. Then they will have something to share with those who are poor.

 29 When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need—words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you.30 And do not make the Holy Spirit sad. The Spirit is God's proof that you belong to him. God gave you the Spirit to show that God will make you free when the final day comes.31 Do not be bitter or angry or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. Never do anything evil.32 Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ.

Matthew 5:38-48
38 "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' 39 But I tell you, don't stand up against an evil person. If someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other cheek also.40 If someone wants to sue you in court and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.41 If someone forces you to go with him one mile, go with him two miles. 42 If a person asks you for something, give it to him. Don't refuse to give to someone who wants to borrow from you.

    43 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemies.' 44 But I say to you, love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you. 45 If you do this, you will be true children of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on good people and on evil people, and he sends rain to those who do right and to those who do wrong.46 If you love only the people who love you, you will get no reward. Even the tax collectors do that.47 And if you are nice only to your friends, you are no better than other people. Even those who don't know God are nice to their friends. 48 So you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

It is easy to walk away from these verses with a to do list, because I have done that in the past.  In addition verse 48 says, be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.  We begin to lose focus, panic and say that this is impossible to do.  But go back to Psalm 19 - we look at creation and stand in awe of the glory of God.  Then we are told that His statues give us life, wisdom, strength, joy and direction in how we live our lives.  Then we also see that Jesus walked out the very things that He stated - He turned the other cheek, He gave above and beyond what was asked, He was beaten, spit upon, rejected and killed.  But then we see that God did step in and He gave life, abundant life, eternal life for us all!  It begins to unravel this to do list, it reminds us of the story we are walking in and then as we look back at Ephesians we see that we have the Holy Spirit inside of us helping us to walk things out.  Finally, as my husband pointed out this morning, what is this perfection that God is inviting us to walk out - it is love.  God allows the sun and the rain (His creation) to bless and favor ALL people.  When we love our enemies, when we turn the other cheek we are offering them a picture of God's heart towards ALL people.  Pretty awesome.

In Christ,

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