April 16: The Wisdom of Holy Week

“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”  Proverbs 3:9-10

Jesus was a homeless person.  His sacrifice for you and me was total and complete.  He wasted no time building his nest egg.  He spent no energy saving for a rainy day.  He had no place to call “Home.”

Along the way he received an expensive robe made of one solid piece of cloth.  It was a piece fit for a king, but was ripped from him unceremoniously on Good Friday.  The Roman Soldiers noted the quality of the clothing and cast lots for it so that it’s value would not be wasted.  Even that last bit of wealth was given for us.  That last bit of modesty.  That last bit of comfort.  That last bit of dignity.  Given for you so that you may be rich.

Jesus honored the Lord with his wealth, fulfilling this proverb so that we can be rich.  The Bible doesn’t promise earthly riches though.  This type of wealth is beyond what money can buy.  It’s wealth beyond our wildest imagination that is given.  Because Jesus became poor, we have become rich!  These riches are not for this world where moth and rust destroy and their value will diminish over time.  These riches are for eternity!

There’s a great hymn that carries this message to its fulfillment.  “I’m but a stranger here, Heaven is my home!”  Because Jesus honored the Lord with His wealth He has gone ahead to prepare your home.  Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms,” and, “I will go to prepare a place for you there.”  Because of his total sacrifice you have riches for eternity!

 

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April 15: The Wisdom of Holy Week

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.  Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you’— when you already have it with you.”  Proverbs 3:27-28

Jesus selflessness is amazing.  With the weight of the world’s sin on his shoulders he takes time to care for others.  He would have had every right to check out during this last week.  He could have disappeared and took some extra time for himself, and none of us would have questioned him.  Instead of looking out for himself it seems he even extended himself beyond what one can imagine during this last week.

He took time to show his love to the disciples by washing their feet and joining them for the last supper where he gifted them with life and salvation.

As He was being arrested he stopped Peter from revolting and took the time to heal the injured ear of one of his captors.  He loved his enemies perfectly.

He stopped on his way to Calvary to comfort the women who were crying in anguish.

He spoke words of forgiveness to the very men who drove nails into his hands and feet.  “Father, forgive them!”

He used precious breath to invite a criminal into paradise.

He cared for his mother and his good friend in his dying moments.

When any one of us would have turned inward to care for our own needs, Jesus opened himself to the needs of everyone else he met.  His selflessness is amazing, and in that last week we see what we’ve always seen in Jesus.  He always took the time to bring GOOD to those around him, no matter the cost.  Jesus fulfilled Proverbs 3:27-28 and we get all the GOODNESS!

He continues to do the same today, as Paul says in Romans 8:  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.”  That’s a great deal for you and me!

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April 14: The Wisdom of Holy Week

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” Proverbs 3:3-4

Love for God and love for others drove everything that Jesus did.  Jesus had a simple mission statement:  Love God, Love Others.  And, he did both perfectly for us.

Jesus fulfilled this proverb and gave the good name to you and me!  He was perfectly loving and always faithful, and by faith you and I get to stand before God with a great reputation.  This is what Paul means in Romans 1 when he says, “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”

Righteousness, or a good name in the sight of God, is given as a gift by God to those who believe that Jesus loves them!  For God so loved the world that He sent Jesus!  Believe in Jesus and you’ll find yourself in great standing with God!

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The Wisdom of Holy Week: April 13

“My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.” Proverbs 3:1-2

For the past six weeks we’ve been reading Proverbs 3 and thinking about what it looks like to live a wise life. It includes being loving and faithful. Wisdom directs us to a right relationship with God and others. It properly places material things as a tool to serve God and do good for our neighbor. Wisdom offers a sense of humility that places God at the forefront of our lives.

Along the way I’ve looked in the mirror and realized that I don’t live as wise a life as I think I do, or as I want to. Perfect wisdom is hard to attain, even impossible except for Jesus. In this all-important Holy Week we will look to Jesus for wisdom. Beyond wisdom we will look to Jesus for the perfection that you and I could not accomplish on our own. In Jesus we see one who loves perfectly, who trusts perfectly, who fights evil perfectly, who honors God with his wealth perfectly, who relates perfectly to his father, and who does good to others perfectly. In Jesus we see perfect wisdom and wisdom perfected.

Apart from Jesus, there is no wisdom, but in Jesus we see one who always knows not only what the right answer is, but also how to live it! In Jesus we find ourselves forgiven and strengthened in wise living for today. The Lenten verse has it right: “Come, let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith…”

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April 12: Wisdom= Do unto others

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.  Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you’— when you already have it with you.”  Proverbs 3:27-28

You already have it with you to do good!  God has given you good to do as a gift.  It’s not about how good you have to be, or how much good you have to bring.  It’s about finding your true self in the person God has shaped you to be and living in that goodness.

As Lutherans we love the verses in Ephesians chapter 2 that say, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”  Eph 2:8-9  These words remind us that all this Good Works talk doesn’t get us anywhere with God.  He ALREADY loves you and He ALREADY saved you by Grace through faith in Jesus.  Do one good work, or do a thousand.  You’re already saved by Jesus!

The next verse also adds a sense of Good News for us in that we find out that even the good we might do is a gift from God to others:  “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Eph 2:10  In other words, quit working so hard, and let God work for, in, and through you.  It’s His Good Work that He’s prepared in advance for you to do.

You already have it with you!  God has blessed you to be a blessing to others!

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April 11: Wisdom= Do unto others

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.  Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you’— when you already have it with you.”  Proverbs 3:27-28

The series finale of the hit 90’s show Seinfeld has the cast standing by as they watch a man get robbed.  Their failure to act got them arrested as accomplices in the crime.  This comic look at human character reveals what most of us fear: it’s not enough to not be the one doing harm to another, but those who stand by without doing good are also guilty.

Historic parallels from Nazi Germany abound.  Guilt is shared by those who do harm as well as those who failed to do good.  When it’s in your power, do good!  Luther says the same thing in the explanations to the Ten Commandments.  The commandments tell us more than what NOT to do.  They offer some positive directives too.  Each commandment telling us what not to do has a flip side that offers a way to complete the commandment too.  Here are a few examples:

#5 Do not murder…help and support your neighbor in every physical need.

#7 Do not steal…help your neighbor improve and protect his possessions and income.

# 8  Do not bear false witness…defend your neighbor, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.

This is hard, and we’ll never be perfect at fulfilling these commands, but Jesus was and is!  He lived in such a way that he didn’t bring about harm, but more than that, always brought about good.  He still does it through you and me today!  It’s not a question of What WOULD Jesus do (WWJD), but what IS Jesus DOING?  He’s still at work bringing good to our world today through His Word of Life!

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April 10: Wisdom= Do unto others

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.  Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you’— when you already have it with you.”  Proverbs 3:27-28

Doing good to others doesn’t always have to be a huge thing.  Sometimes even a small act of kindness is enough to make a huge difference in the life of another person.

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the disciples that those who do good to others are really doing good to Jesus.  He lists feeding the poor, clothing the naked, visiting the prisoner, and sharing a cup of water with the thirsty.  A simple cup of water at the right time can make all the difference in the world.

God doesn’t expect you to solve the world’s problems, or care for every single person in your community.  Don’t go overboard in trying to do everything.  Start small.  Find a neighbor to love.  Do something good for them.  They’ll appreciate it, and so will Jesus!

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