Good News

Tuesday Devotional: Jonah 3

Read Jonah 3bible

The Gospel is the worst news and it’s the best news.  The Gospel means that the life that you’ve known is now over.  That the pleasures you pursue for satisfaction are no longer permitted.  That your plans prepared to affirm your self-worth and value have now been changed.  The Gospel means that in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ you have now been buried alongside the Son of Man.  The Gospel means that the authority you’ve once held over your own life has now been passed on to someone else.  That the life that you’ve known is over.  This IS the Gospel and this IS the only Gospel.  The message of any other Gospel is no Gospel at all.

However, with this death of the self comes a new life, incomparable to the life you’ve known and more fulfilling than you could have ever imagined.  The Gospel declares to the world that God is God.  He is the authority that known best.  You no longer have to pretend that you have everything under control.  You don’t.  He does.  He is the judge that can truly judge, fairly upholding an unwavering standard of justice to all people of all nations.  You no longer have to be the sole defender of fairness, justice and equality, fighting an uphill battle that only ever gets steeper and higher.  He is the God who understands precisely who we are, yet has decided to pursue His love for us in spite of our sins.

The Gospel never declares to you what you want to hear.  It never declares to you what you think you can handle hearing.  It never declares that you are good and merely in need of subtle adjustments to your daily habits and routines in order to obtain righteousness, peace, joy and persistent strength.  The Gospel says give up.  Give up your fight to claim authority on your life as if you were God.  You can’t and won’t win.  The Gospel says that the world we live in is under the watchful eye and in the caring hands of a creator who will not leave the persecuted without a savior, nor the persecutor without a judge and jury.  The Gospel is truth and truth does not alter depending on the audience.  Truth is truth to the slave as much as it is to the master.  We are all under the standards of the living God and we will all be assessed and measured according to the standards of His image we find alive and active within each of our hearts.  We don’t need affirmation that we are good.  We need the truth that we need a savior from ourselves.  We don’t need affirmation that we are special and above the rest.  We need the truth that identifies us children of God in a family of others no different than us.  The Gospel is a convicting, uniting and empowering truth that has the means to transform our world.  But the Gospel must be seen as bad news if it can ever be perceived and believed as good.

 

Tuesday Devotional: Psalm 68

bible

A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.
God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.
O God, when thou wentest forth before thy people, when thou didst march through the wilderness; Selah:
The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful rain, whereby thou didst confirm thine inheritance, when it was weary.
10 Thy congregation hath dwelt therein: thou, O God, hast prepared of thy goodness for the poor.
11 The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.

-Psalm 68:5-11

Fatherless.  Widows.  The Solitary.  Those bound with chains.  The weary.  The poor.  These groups have nothing to do with nationality or ethnicity.  These are conditions of people all over the world.  God LOVES these people.  Often the work of Christians or churches fails to do the work Jesus Christ has prepared and commanded us to do.  Christians are very busy people and churches are very busy places.  However, today too many people who have no father are left without any positive male figure in their life.  Too many widowed woman are left without emotional or financial support.  Too many people die in overcrowded prisons with no visitors, no correspondence and no hope.  Too many people are burdened and weary from overwork and stress, no one to lean on or share the burden.  Too many people have no homes, no food and no shelter, left unassisted in the hopeless world of poverty.

It is a fair statement that we as Christians and we as the Church are not doing our job.  Instead of making excuses or pointing the finger, we must repent to God and to our neighbors.  It is not good enough to have a portion of a ministry dedicated to these people. These people are our ministry.  Many people are suspicious of the gospel and the Christians that carry it.  They are angered by the hypocrisy.  They are angered by the judgment and hate.  They are angered by the lack of constructive and effective efforts to create change in neighborhoods, communities, cities and the world.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news not because it helps us to get what we want.  It is the Good News because it is the final answer of hope for everyone in want.

Instead of working on how to refurbish the image of Christianity and the Church we must each turn our eyes upon Jesus and ask Him to show us each how we have failed to carry out His command to love.  The only way to resurrect the image of Christianity, to be in the crowd or”great company” of those that publish the Good News, is to refocus our attention onto God, who loves those people, and Jesus Christ, who became these people.  Our image and the world’s perception of us is not the issue.  The issue is our disobedience and our reckless mishandling of Christ’s message.  We begin to worship and honor God by loving the broken, weary, lost people. By loving these people we will again be the bearers of the best news, not only because these people need help, but because when we were in their condition, Jesus Christ helped us.