… Pray this prayer at https://abide.is/sharing/3J–YI8_YaF9V0XU
I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind. What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted.
Ecclesiastes 1:14-15 ESV
Is the second night after the shooting in South Florida and I can’t even immagen all those high School kids still in Shock, or not.
I am afraid that now another painful time for them and their families is coming. After the Schock, the pain and the fear come out into the open. The families of those teachers and the one of the brave Coach that saved many… Too much. I just keep praying
The third result of sin is the area of your emotions. Sin causes emotional distress and disappointment.
Solomon writes a lot about this in Ecclesiastes: “I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless — like chasing the wind. What is wrong cannot be made right. What is missing cannot be recovered” (Ecclesiastes 1:14-15 NLT).
Solomon is saying that, as a human being, it seems pointless, because we cannot change the past and we cannot control the future. All the stuff that we’ve done wrong, we can’t undo. All the stuff that was done wrong to us, we can’t undo.
And, we can’t control the future. Most of the important things in your life you have no control over. The world cannot be fixed by human effort alone.
Can we go out and do good in the world? Yes. Should we? Yes. Should we relieve pain? Of course.
But the world is irreparably broken. We serve others to relieve hurt, to heal people, to help them make it through. But we’re not kidding ourselves. We’re not going to bring the Kingdom in on Earth. This is not Heaven. Our ultimate job is to get people into the perfect place, not try to make the world a perfect place. Should we try to make the world better? Yes. Should we expect it to be perfect? No. The damage is too deep for repair.
Because that damage is so deep, we get stressed out — because things don’t work right, we don’t have enough time to get everything done, things get in our way. There are delays and difficulties and dead ends and, of course, disappointments.
Did you ever plan for a big event and think, “This is going to be so great!” Then when it’s over, you think, “That was it?” I know people who’ve spent an entire year planning for a wedding. Then it was all over in an hour.
The fact is, we have the amazing ability to overestimate how happy we’re going to be with a person, an event, or a possession. We’re not just disappointed with events that happen in our lives or with people in our lives. We’re disappointed with ourselves.
Why? Because this is not Heaven. Everything on the planet is broken. Nothing works perfectly because of our sin.
This devotional © 2014 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
There’s a sense of excitement at the start of the season. The ground is prepared and marked out. The fixture list is printed. Everything is ready. So along you go for the first match.
But imagine what it would be like if, just before the game was due to start, the coach came onto the pitch and began to point to people in the stands — people who had come as spectators! ‘All right: you over there, come on; and you in the blue jacket, you too; and you there hiding near the back, I want you in the team . . .’ You begin to be afraid you might be next. Suddenly the people who’ve been called are hurrying down to the field of play, and the game begins.
Of course no serious sports team today would do it like that — or, if they did, they wouldn’t win many matches. But this is the strange thing. When God came back at last, coming to establish the rule of heaven here on earth, that seems to be exactly how he went about it. Lots of people who thought they were just spectators suddenly found themselves summoned onto the field of play. As the story goes on, we find out that they, like modern spectators dragged from the stands and made to play the game, were not as ready, or as fit, as they might have been. But it seems that that’s how God wanted to work.
There’s something going on there which gets near the heart of the challenge of the gospel for us today. It’s very easy for people to imagine that they can be ‘religious’ — they can say their prayers, they can go to church, they can read the Bible — but basically they are looking on, spectating, while God does what- ever God is going to do. And of course there’s a sense in which that’s true. God is not weak, helpless, waiting for humans to get their act together before he can do anything.
But in another sense part of the point is that God always wanted humans to be part of the action, not just spectators. God made humans to reflect his image — his presence, his love, his plans — into the world. That’s why he himself came into the world as a human being. And that’s why Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John, and the others. They weren’t ready. They weren’t expecting it. But that’s how Jesus worked then, and that’s how he works to this day. Perhaps that’s why you’re reading Matthew’s gospel right now. Perhaps Jesus is going to point to you and ask you to help him with some of the work.
Of course, there were still quite a lot of people who remained spectators. As Jesus went about healing people — which was the most dramatic way of showing them that ‘heaven’ really was taking charge on earth — it was natural that great crowds followed him from all over. But here’s another challenge. What should the church be doing today that would make people realize that ‘heaven’ is actually in charge here and now? When we find the answer to that question, there will be lots more spectators — and, we may hope, lots more players too.
Gracious Lord, help us to be ready when you call us to work with you.
Lent for all
When a couple get married, there is so much to learn. Not so much the immediate and obvious things — favourite foods, musical tastes, good ideas for holidays, and so on. There are deeper things that make each one of us mysterious and deeply special. The rich store of memories and mental associations. The older family history: stories told and retold, sorrows quietly aching in the background, tales of an exotic cousin here, a tragic uncle there, an aunt who wrote books or a great- grandfather who was cheated in business. Such stories shape our imaginations. They condition our reactions to new situations. When you join someone else’s family it takes time to learn how all this works for them. Often you can only make sense of what someone says or does up front if you get in touch with the older, deeper stories that shaped them from their earliest days.
Matthew, writing his gospel, wants to help his readers to learn the great stories of the family into which they have come through their faith in Jesus Christ. Many of his readers were probably Jewish already. That made some things easier, others harder. He is telling the story of what happened within living memory — here, the story of John the Baptist getting people ready for Jesus — but he is also helping them to get in touch with the older, deeper stories of God’s ancient people. Like all early Christian writers, Matthew is eager to explain how what has happened in and through Jesus is what the ancient stories had been pointing to all along.
He’s already begun to do this in the first two chapters. There’s the great long family tree right at the start, of course. But there are also the times when he has pointed back to the ancient scriptures to explain the meaning of the events he’s describing. Now he takes this to a new level. He picks up one of the most famous prophecies in the Old Testament, and declares that it came true in and through John the Baptist.
The prophecy in question summed up the longing and the praying of Israel over the previous five hundred years. Israel had been overrun by foreign armies. The Temple had been destroyed. God himself, they believed, had abandoned his people because of their wickedness, and had left them to their fate. Even when the Jews returned from Babylon and rebuilt the Temple, there was a lingering, uneasy sense that there was more to come, that all was not yet well. So they told the story like this: one day God will come back to rescue us. He’ll come back and take charge of the whole world, and everything will be right at last. The God in heaven will be king of the earth! That’s what we’re waiting for.
So when John the Baptist suddenly appeared, down near the river Jordan, telling people that ‘heaven’ was going to take charge on earth (that’s what ‘the kingdom of heaven’ means), it’s not surprising that everyone set off to find out what was going on. John was plunging people into the Jordan. He was re-enacting the far-off moment when the ancient Israelites first entered their Promised Land. This is it! This is what we’ve been waiting for! Sharp-eyed people, then and later, said: This is the man the prophet spoke about. He is the ‘voice in the wilderness’, getting people ready for God to come back.
If we grasp nothing more than this, Matthew would have done half his job. But there are two other things going on here which also shape the way he’s going to tell the rest of his story. First, lots of people coming to John have to be warned not to take God for granted. They may be Abraham’s children physically, but God is doing a new thing. He is reshaping Abraham’s family: sharp judgment on the one hand, an open invitation on the other. ‘God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones!’ This isn’t the way many of them had been telling the story. It must have come as a shock.
Gracious Lord, as your heavenly rule extends on earth, help us to know your story and live as your family.
From YouVersion Matthew
1, 2, 3,
Sin Has Damaged Everything
Nothing works perfectly. Because the entire human race has made poor choices …
Everything’s broken, and nothing on this planet works perfectly. Sin has damaged everything.
Sin has ruined everything. Sin has destroyed everything. Sin has corrupted and spoiled everything. Sin has injured everything — every relationship, idea, dream, and human body. Everything has been touched by this damage.
In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon describes six dimensions of your life that sin has damaged. Over the next few days, we’ll look at these six dimensions.
1. The first result is natural disasters and deformities.
We’re not living in Eden anymore. As John Milton wrote in a very famous poem, paradise was lost. We live on a broken planet. And, as a result, we have hurricanes, typhoons, wacky weather, earthquakes, droughts, and floods.
It’s amazing to me that insurance calls all these things acts of God but doesn’t call the birth of a baby an act of God. In other words, an act of God is only the negative stuff that happens. God does not want these things happening in the world. And he is as upset by natural disasters as we are. The world was broken when sin damaged everything.
The Bible says in Romans 8:20, “Creation is confused” (CEV). Everything on this planet has lost its original purpose. Everything in the world was damaged including your DNA, your parents’ DNA, and their parents’ DNA. Have you figured out yet that your body doesn’t work right? If everybody’s body worked perfectly, there would be no need for doctors.
2. The second result is physical decay and death.
There was no death on this planet until sin entered the world. Ecclesiastes 8:8 says, “We cannot control the wind or determine the day of our death.” We know that death is inevitable, but we sure try to stop it. We go to great lengths to postpone the decay, too.
But there’s actually good news: God doesn’t want you to live forever on this planet. He wants you to live forever in a perfect place, not on a planet that’s been broken by sin.
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
Romans 8:22 ESV
This devotional © 2014 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Will everything be okay?
What’s the recipe for terror? Well, make the setting a stormy sea in the predawn night, then mix in a ghost striding across the water toward your boat—that would scare even seasoned fishermen who’ve “seen it all.” And it did. When we are terrified of something, we’re fully convinced that everything will not be okay. And here Jesus not only enters into his disciples’ fear, he causes it. His answer to their terror is subtly profound and important for us to grasp—he does not explain himself; he reveals himself. “It’s all right, I am here! Don’t be afraid.” Our assurance that everything in life will be okay has nothing to do with optimistic explanations about outcomes; it has everything to do with the presence of Jesus in the midst of our fear. And more than quelling our fears, he will invite us to walk into them, always with him right by our side.
Matthew 14:22-33 ESV
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night, he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
God Bless you,
What is right and wrong?
Jesus encounters a government official whose son is sick. The man asks Jesus to heal his son, and Jesus responds by asking, “Will you never believe in me unless you see miraculous signs and wonders?” Elsewhere in the Gospels, the Pharisees and teachers of the law ask Jesus to show them a miraculous sign—they want him to remove all doubt from the question. But Jesus calls them “evil” and “faithless” because of it (Matthew 12:38-45). Jesus came to re-establish a trusting, faithful relationship with God’s beloved children. But children who fold their arms and stamp their feet, demanding miraculous signs as a foundation for their trust, have missed something that is true of every relationship.
If your love is based on performance and not a commitment to your beloved’s heart, then it is no love at all. It’s wrong to treat our relationship with God like a business transaction—if you do this, then I’ll do this—because God is interested in restoring intimacy of the deepest kind with us. Demanding that God perform for us to win our love is wrong; trusting him because we’ve “tasted and seen” his heart is right.
God Bless you,
Why Is Life So Hard?
Everything seems to be a battle. Nothing is easy. The fact is, life is difficult.
So, why is life so hard in this world?
The Bible says rebellion against God broke everything.
It all started back with the first couple, Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden. When God created the world, everything was perfect. It was paradise. And Adam and Eve had no problems, suffering, sadness, temptations, or troubles.
But one day Adam and Eve decided that they wanted to do what they wanted to do. God told them, “You can do anything you want to in this paradise except one thing.” And what did Adam and Eve do? The one thing God told them not to do.
Why did he even give them a choice? Because without a choice, they couldn’t choose to love God. If you’re forced to love God, then it’s not real love.
Before sin, there was no death in the world. There was no sadness in the world. There was no sorrow. There was no difficulty in the world. People would not die. Adam and Eve could have lived forever as long as it was a perfect environment. It was only when everything got broken that sin brought death into the world.
Adam and Eve weren’t the only ones who made that choice. I’ve made it, you’ve made it, and everybody else in the world has made it. We have all said, “I don’t want to do the right thing; I want to do the easy thing.” We’ve all said, “I don’t want to say the truth; I want to say what’s convenient.” We’ve all said, “I don’t want to be what God wants me to be; I want to be what I want to be.” We’ve all done this.
We have all broken God’s laws. We have all rebelled by sins, transgressions, and iniquities. And that’s why nothing works correctly — your marriage, your health, your finances, your body, your relationships. Nothing works correctly, because sin broke everything.
When you understand why life in the world is so hard, you’re no longer going to be surprised by it. You’re not going to be surprised when things don’t go your way. You’re not going to be surprised when plans don’t pan out. You’re not going to be surprised when things actually go bad. And you will be able to handle the hard times of life much more easily.
So why is life so hard? Why do we suffer? Why is everything a battle? The answer is that rebellion against God broke everything.
This devotional © 2014 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.