Most of us know the story.
They know where he is. They have put their plan in place. They are just waiting on the right time.
They drag her to Him. They aren’t very gentle in the way they treat her. They throw her down in front of him and begin the questions.
She was caught in adultery. She broke the Law. Death is the verdict. What are You going to do? (Where is the guy, by the way?)
He looks around at them and squats down. He begins doodling in the dirt. We don’t know what He writes, but finally responds.
Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
He squats back down and keeps doodling. The accusers begin leaving one by one. The one is finally left alone with Him.
He asks her where the accusers are. They are gone is her response. He then tells her what to do.
Go, and sin no more.
I wonder based on things I hear and read if people really like this story today. Don’t get me wrong. People say they do. They love that Jesus showed compassion and love toward this woman. But there is one thing that I think some professing Christians seem to have a problem with.
It’s the whole sin no more part.
After all, that was awful judgmental of Jesus. Couldn’t He have just told her to go on about her business? Did He really have to tell her not to sin any longer?
It seems that the professing Christians don’t want to tell anyone to quit sinning. Unless, of course, it’s the sin that offends them. Those that are really on their radar.
When it gets down to it, we can all be like that. There are sins that we can gloss over. Some that offend us more than others. Those that we focus on, while giving others some slack.
Let’s make sure that we follow Christ’s example. Let’s show love and compassion to our fellow sinners out there. But let’s not forget that there is sin that we should go and do no longer. Even sin that doesn’t seem to offend us.
Do you see a reluctance in people calling sin sin today?
You might, at some point, have heard of critic’s math from Jon Acuff. In Jon’s mind he says something like this: One thousand compliments plus one criticism equals one criticism. Jon has this tendency to completely forget about the thousand people who love his work and focus entirely on the one person who doesn’t.
I don’t think he is unique. I think many of us are like that. We worry and are anxious about that one person who hates us or our work instead of the many who love us.
Unfortunately, we also flip this around a bit. Take someone who is a fantastic. They make some sort of error and that is what they are known for. A lifetime of positives plus one mistake equals one mistake.
We look at the recovering alcoholic who has been sober for three years. Three years of sobriety plus one relapse equals one relapse.
What about God? How does He view things?
Many of us would assume that God looks at us the same way. After all, we are made in His image, right? Well, a very flawed image at this point that is tainted by sin. We don’t look at things the way the Lord does. He flips our math around.
We turn to Him. We repent and accept the free gift of salvation. His math becomes the opposite of ours.
A lifetime of sin plus one act of grace equals one act of grace.
God doesn’t focus on our sin anymore. Instead, His focus is on what His Son has does for us. He no longer sees a sinner standing there. He sees someone saved by grace. Instead of mistakes, He sees His child.
What can we do? Instead of keeping on using the same old math, we need to turn to a new math book. Rather than using old math, we need to turn to new math. We need to use God’s math. We can flip our script. Change our own way of doing math.
What kind of math are you using in life?
Most of you who visit this piece of the internet probably own something in common. We may pick up daily or several times daily. We may carry it with us a few times each week. We might even have an app on our phones that contains it.
Most of those Bibles that we have also have something in common. Four to six of the books in the Bible contain some red letters that highlight for us the words of Jesus. Those words are, though not everything, much of what we turn to for comfort, strength and guidance.
Paul writes that all scripture is breathed by God and is profitable for us. It doesn’t matter if we turn to Genesis or Revelation or the other sixty-four book in between. If we follow Christ, all sixty-six of them are there for our benefit and instruction. We can read them and actually hear the word of God.
My question is this: How much do you read and study it?
If you are a pastor, it may be unfair for you to answer. You may read it more than most, though I keep hearing of some who get interns to do their study and prepare their sermons. I think that is rare and most of my pastor friends do their own work.
The rest of us, though? Are we putting in the work? Are we searching the scriptures to hear a word from God? As far as I can tell, the surest way to truly get a message from the Lord is to truly read and study it.
Charles Spurgeon said this of John Bunyan:
Why this man is a living Bible. Prick him anywhere and his blood is Bibline. The very essence of the Bible flows from him.
What a testimony Bunyan left. Those that followed him still felt the impact of the time he spent in the word of God.
I’m not there. Not by any stretch. I’m better than some. No where near others. However, I would love to have something like this said about me after I have gone on to be with the Lord.
Do you bleed Bible?
Through the first three chapters of Galatians, Paul has defended the Gospel against false teachers called Judaizers. He has given verifiable, personal, historical facts to show that he and the other Apostles were on the same page. He writes what the true purpose of the Law is. Paul begins the fourth chapter asking a familiar question, one that he continues to ask throughout the epistle.
Paul begins chapter 4 picking up where he left off chapter 3. Paul had stated, at the end of 3, that if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. Being an heir is a new concept that Paul introduces. It is not something that one would expect, especially if you have to live according to the law. Paul continues, Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. Children at this time were placed under the responsibility of slaves to basically raise until the time of adulthood. This time differed from culture to culture. Roman and Jewish custom was for this time to be after the first 12 years. Greek culture said 18 years of age. Regardless, the time was set by the father, at which point they would be considered adults.
So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage the elemental things of the world. In the context that Paul is using, it seems that he means that man is held in bondage to the man-made religion that the world tends to create. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. It took the Son, doing the work under the Law that no one else could do, to redeem us and make us sons of the Father through adoption.
Because you sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Being a child of the Father, adopted, means that we get more than just salvation. We gain the Spirit of HIs Son, the Holy Spirit. This is something that the Law cannot give us. Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son an heir through God. Just as a human child is fully an heir when he comes to age, so we become heirs when we come to Christ.
However, at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are not gods. Paul seems to be indicating that when we were slaves before Christ, you were slaves to those which were not gods. He seems to be indicating that demonic forces were in control of us prior to Christ. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? Those elemental things, that man-made religion, seems to be demonic in nature and Paul asks an important question: After becoming and heir of God through Christ and given the Spirit, why would you want to return to a religious system controlled by demons?
This makes no sense to Paul. After being freed from legalism where You observe days and months and seasons and years. Paul is concerned. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain. Paul worked hard to share the Gospel of Christ with the Galatians and now they are returning to their former lives. It astounds him that anyone would do this.
1. Before Christ, we are spiritual children who are held in bondage. Christ frees us from this bondage.
2. Christ makes us adopted children of God, heirs of the promise. It is through this promise that we gain the Spirit.
3. There is danger in returning to the life we had before Christ. This would cause us to be living a life in vain.
Dale looked at his watch. He had come to the church a bit early so he could get some work done before his meeting started. He wasn’t sure what was going on, but counseling went with the territory. He had counseled so many people over the years, but primarily he had poured his time into college students for the last half-dozen years or so. This was back to the where he cut his teeth, counseling folks that he preached to every week.
He heard a car drive up and knew that it was about time. He put his books back in his book bag and closed his Bible. He left it on his desk in case he needed it. No telling what he was about to get into.
Shortly he heard a knock on the door to the pastor’s office. Dale didn’t consider it his office. He was just a temporary resident, so he was trying to not claim the space for when he needed to get out quickly. He had started looking at where he would be looking for a pastorate. Each week his desire was growing stronger and he realized that Doug had been right. This was what he was meant to do. Teaching had been just a temporary assignment from the Lord.
Dale opened the door and there stood Tom Davis. Tom had been right on time. He didn’t know much about Tom, other than he was an accountant. It made sense that he would be precise in arriving. In his limited encounters with Tom he had seen him as a fairly black and white person. He was glad that he had come in early to get his work done.
“Come on in, Tom. You doing ok?” Dale opened the door wide and let Tom in. He noticed that Tom seemed nervous. Dale wondered what could have him so uptight?
“Yeah, I’m doing fine.” Tom just seemed fidgety. He was wringing his hands a bit and looking around the office.
“Have a seat and we’ll get started. What’s going on? You seemed like you really needed to talk when you called me earlier.”
“Yeah, it’s something that I really haven’t faced before. I don’t know how to handle it.” Tom looked up at the ceiling.
“Ok, why don’t you just lay it on me. I’m sure I won’t be surprised.” Dale tried to give Tom a smile to reassure him.
“It’s like this.” Tom looked down at his hands. Dale just wondered inwardly what it was. “I’m…I’m…I’m in love.” Tom looked like he was going to throw up.
Dale just sat there for a second. “That’s it?”, he thought. “Tom’s in love?” He thought for a minute to when he first realized when he and Melissa were in love. It made him a bit sick and he couldn’t eat for half a day.
“Well, that’s great, Tom. Tell me about it.” Dale grinned at Tom.
“Well, it’s Teresa. She and I have been seeing quite a bit of each other. I realize that I want to talk to her first thing when I wake up and last thing before I go to bed.” Tom seemed relieved, like he had kept this whole concept of loving Teresa bottled up inside.
“Well, fantastic! How does she feel?” Dale just kept grinning.
“That’s the problem. I don’t know. I think she feels the same. She keeps going out with me. She fixes me dinner some days. I just don’t know.”
Dale realized there was Tom’s problem. He was worried what was really going on between himself and Teresa.
“Well, have you thought about asking her how she feels? I imagine that you are feeling a bit tormented right now, not knowing. You’re going to have to find out so that you can figure out the next step.” Dale leaned forward a bit just to put a little emphasis on what he was saying.
“That’s what scares me a bit. I’m afraid that she really just wants to be friends. I really haven’t dated anyone in years. Teresa and I didn’t know each other very well before the search team happened. It would destroy me if she really didn’t want to date me, but I don’t know what to do if she does. What is that next step?” Tom’s leg starting bouncing up and down as though it had a life of its own.
“Well, first, settle down. Take a deep breath. Do you want me to tell you what to do? It’s been a while since I’ve really dated anyone, but I can give you some pointers. But the first thing is that you must have a serious conversation with Teresa. You can’t just let this go on and on. Teresa doesn’t want you to do that. You don’t want that. You have to figure out where you are. Then, it comes down to what you want. Do you know what you want?” Dale leaned back in his chair. He was used to counseling young adults on this kind of thing. Not a grown adult.
“Sure. I want to date her for a while and marry her. Neither one of us are exactly young. I would like to have children” Tom seemed to be settling down. It almost seemed as though Tom was coming to know exactly what he wanted his relationship with Teresa to be.
“Well, Tom, it seems to me that you must have a conversation like that with her. You don’t have to tell her that you want to marry her. You might want to tell her that you want to see if your relationship will lead in that direction. Of course, you probably want to find out if she really wants to date you first. Not just be a friend, but if she wants to commit to finding out if the two of you want to be married.”
Tom slowly closed his eyes. He opened them and he smiled. “You’re right. That’s what I need to do. I am going out with her tonight. The most important thing we could do tonight is find out where we are. ”
Dale watched as Tom seemed to settle into what he was saying. It was as though he hadn’t been sure of where he was when he came in and now knew exactly what the score was.
“Tom, let’s pray. Melissa and I will be praying tonight as you are out on your date. I pray that the Lord will guide you.” Dale and Tom both lowered their heads.
It will soon be a couple of years since I left a church and began a search for our family’s new church home. I could give you the reason we left our church, but it probably wouldn’t match any reason that you might leave yours. Instead, here are five potential reasons that you might leave your church:
1. Carpet Color — Sometimes churches build new buildings. In those new buildings, they install other new things like carpet. Imagine if you had your heart set on a particular color, let’s say PMS 151 orange. Instead, the church goes with an offensive color like beige or gray. It might be time to pack it up and head to a church that appreciates the finer colors of the world.
2. Chandeliers — When that new church is being built, talk begins to be bandied about whether to install chandeliers in the auditorium. You decide to vote against any chandeliers, but you are in the minority. You decide to leave if they are going to put chandeliers in the church when all you wanted were lights.
3. Hymnals — Two huge screens are put on put on either side of the stage area. It sounds pretty good because announcements and such will be projected on the screens. However, there is talk about the seating that will go in. Chairs instead of pews will be in the new church building. You highly object to this because there will be no place to put the hymnals.
4. Your Pew — You walk into church one day and some visitors are sitting in your pew. You cut them some slack because they don’t know what’s what. However they keep coming back and continue to sit in your seat. You decide to explain the situation to them and they laugh about it. The next Sunday they are still there. You try to sit in other places, but you can’t hear as well. Time to move on.
5. Fellowship Dinner — The church has a dinner on the grounds. You always bring your blue ribbon winning apple pie. In fact, you bring two or three of them so there is plenty to go around. You haven’t got around to leaving because of that couple sitting in your seat, but you’re close. However, the wife brings her own apple pie and, gasp, folks are actually eating it. For the first time ever, you take apple pie home. There’s only room for one apple pie in that church. Time to take your’s somewhere else.
What are some ridiculous reasons you have heard of someone leaving a church?
I don’t say that to whine about my life right now. It just happens to have sped up a bit over the last few days. Work has been intense. My son’s football workouts and practice has increased. Some of my rest has disappeared. I’ve wanted to work on some projects that are so close to completion, yet so far.
So, what do I do? What can I do? What should I do?
There is one thing that I must do. It’s what the Lord wants me to do. It’s the one thing Jesus said to do.
Who? Who is to come?
All who are weary and heavy-laden.
What? What does He give?
You see, the tired, the weary, the heavy-laden are welcome. Jesus beckons us. He invites us.
The journey has been long. It’s been exhausting. There is a seat at the table for us.
He gives His yoke to us. He is gentle and humble in heart. He gives rest for our souls.
His yoke is easy. His burden is light.
All we have to do is that one thing.
Do you ever get just plain tired from all of it? Do you come to Him?