What words would your friends or family use to describe you? Jesus referred to two brothers’James and John’as Sons of Thunder. Why? We’re given a glimpse of their fiery personalities in the Bible. After some people rejected them, James and John asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to consume the village. Jesus rebuked them for their impulse to retaliate.
Yet that’s not the end of their story. Jesus worked in these brothers’ lives so that they became known for love and forgiveness.
Though the two brothers had once been ambitious for their own personal gain, they became ambitious to share God’s love with others. The brothers discovered that when you understand and experience God’s love, you are free to live and grow. And as you grow and share with others, you be used by God to touch the lives of many in need of God’s healing help.
Can you relate to the anger and selfish ambition of these men? If so, be encouraged by God’s work in their lives. He wants to do the same in you!
What sorts of things find their way into your heart and mind? If you’re exposing yourself to a constant barrage of ungodly words, music, or images, you’re not taking full responsibility for your life. On the other hand, you can fill your heart and mind with words, music and images not contrary to God’s Word. When you do this, you’ll create a natural defense against some of the evil messages the world so frequently sends your way.
The writer of Psalm 119 declared, ‘I have tried my best to find you’don’t let me wander from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you’. Now, ‘hiding’ God’s Word in your heart essentially means memorizing and meditating on passages of Scripture. God uses his Word’the Bible’to speak to you and show you how to live.
You’ve been given the responsibility to guard your heart and to keep track of the things you hide inside it. So, what’s in your heart? Anger? Lust? Inappropriate images from the web? Are you harboring bitterness? Greed? Are you envious of others? If you’re struggling with these things maybe it’s because you have more of the world’s so-called wisdom in your heart than the true wisdom of God.
Are you having a hard time finding God and following his commands? Try hiding God’s word in your heart. It will help you guard against those things that hurt you and displease God.
Most Americans admire those who practice ‘rugged individualism.’ But in our emphasis on individual freedom, we often lose sight of our corporate responsibility. As Christians, we’re individuals but we’re also part of a people. We’re called to benefit from the work of others, to suffer with others, and to bear responsibility with others. This may not seem fair, but it’s a fact.
You see, our ties reach all the way back to Adam and Eve. We need to be saved because, as it says in the book of Romans, ‘Adam’s one sin brought condemnation upon everyone.’ But Roman’s goes on to say that this very principle of corporate connectedness makes salvation possible through our unity with Christ, for ‘Christ’s one act of righteousness makes all people right in God’s sight and gives them life’.
When the Israelites returned from their exile, they realized how both they and their ancestors had failed God’s commands, and they were overcome with grief. In that repentant grief, however, they heard the good news of grace, and this revived and renewed their love for God and their desire to obey him.
Ask God to bring to mind any sins or wrongdoings you, or even your family, has committed so you may confess and let go of them. It’s a powerful exercise, but seeing God’s mercy over all your sin can be one of the most liberating experiences ever.