Faith; August 6, 2020

Mark 9:23-24 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Matthew’s telling of this episode came up in the readings July 26th, but this little interchange between the father of the boy and Jesus is too important to skip over. Jesus’ statement that “Everything is possible for him who believes,” is something He said several times in different ways, but it is the father’s response that rings true for probably every honest believer. We believe, but our faith seems very shaky at times. We honestly want to believe more, but sometimes it seems like a huge obstacle. I think it comes back to our focus on ourselves: how much do I believe. The object of our faith is much more important! We are too prone to see God as either a cruel taskmaster or as an indulgent Santa, and either of those is far off the mark, even though they each contain an element of truth. It is true that God is absolutely holy, and as such no element of impurity can come near Him without being destroyed. Peter rightly quoted God’s words in Leviticus: “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16) However, God is also love itself, (1 John 4:8) and that love is so intense that it caused Him to send His Son to take the penalty for our sins and die in our place, redeeming us to eternal life. (John 3:16-17) However, that doesn’t make him an indulgent Santa. He wants what is best for us, and like any wise parent, He knows that giving us what we ask for isn’t always the best thing for us. We’ve got to remember that He knows the end from the beginning, and trust Him with it all. From our perspective we may see lots of ugly knots, but from His perspective He sees the beautiful tapestry He is creating in and through our life. When we are focused on our faith, we can lose sight of Him for whom all of creation was just a matter of speaking it out, expressing His will.

This certainly applies to me! I can’t remember ever not knowing about Jesus, and I proclaimed my love for Him to my parents at a very young age, but that doesn’t mean my whole life has been an example of mountain-moving faith. I identify a great deal with the father in this story! I don’t doubt at all that God exists, and that He loves me, but that has got to be expressed in daily, obedient trust. Yesterday I was given appointments for tests and surgery that I am told are for a third basal cell carcinoma, but the fact that this one didn’t look like the others, the urgency with which the hospital seems to be acting, and my not having had radiology tests before my previous surgeries, makes me question the diagnostic report. This is a good exercise in using the faith I have! God knows the true diagnosis, and He is more than able to take care of whatever the issue is, so as He has told me many times before, I’m to rest, relax, and rejoice. This is coming at a very busy time for me, with my photo show starting next week (I’ll have to duck out for the CT scan) and giving exams just before I enter the hospital for surgery, and that greatly intensifies the “faith training.” I can’t complain, any more than I could complain in more than words during my Army training. Rather, I need to rejoice that God knows what is best for me and for Cathy, and He is working it out on His schedule for His glory.

Father, thank You for loving me so much. I do ask You to deal with my persistent unbelief, just as this father prayed, so that I may be the son and the servant that You desire, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!
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Maturity; August 5, 2020

Mark 8:25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

I think this is a very important story, not just for those involved in healing ministry but for everyone who seeks to follow Christ. The point that we need to get is that even for Jesus, not everything happened instantly. He certainly didn’t do anything wrong, but this man wasn’t healed instantly; Jesus had to touch his eyes again. We are so used to everything being instant that we get impatient, and/or we give up. How foolish! Jesus even told a specific parable to teach us that we “should always pray and not give up.” (Luke 18:1) It’s not often the Bible explains to us what it is trying to teach us! This story of Jesus healing the man’s eyes isn’t quite that obvious, but it’s the same message. Things that come too easily are seldom valued, and God wants us to be mature. Psychologists have long used “tolerance for delayed gratification” as a major measure of psychological maturity. When everything happens as soon as we want it to, we don’t gain that maturity. Any parent can testify that patience is required in raising children. As a matter of fact, a major portion of child abuse comes from the lack of maturity in those abusing them. They demand instant adherence to something the “adult” desires, and when that doesn’t happen, the child is punished. There have been children killed for not stopping crying, or for being slow to be potty trained. That is the tragic result of children having children, regardless of the physical age of the parents. Spiritual immaturity can be just about as tragic, with people giving up on themselves or on others in various ways. In general, God wants us to “keep on keeping on,” trusting Him for the final solution. That’s not to say that we aren’t to seek better ways of doing the task at hand. It’s often said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. We do need wisdom from God for every situation, but the point is to keep at the task at hand until God says we’re through with it.

This is something I still deal with constantly, in myself and in others. At almost 72 years old I’ve had quite a lot of run-ins with my own impatience, and it still happens from time to time. As a pastor and teacher I have to deal with the maturity, or lack of it, in others with occasionally distressing frequency. As that happens I am reminded of how I have been in times past, and it helps me be gracious. Sometimes people take themselves out from under my supervision. In such cases I am to keep praying for them, but not necessarily take it as a failure on my part. I am to assure them, if possible, that God hasn’t left them, even if they have turned their back on Him. Speaking the truth in love, I am to invite them to turn around and face Him again, so that He may do in and through them what is best on every level, for His glory.

Father, thank You for this reminder. There have been a lot of people over the years who have turned away. I do pray that the seed that has been planted in them wouldn’t die out, but would produce the fruit that they need and You deserve, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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Preconceptions; August 4, 2020

Mark 6:2-3 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

I find it very interesting that Jesus had three brothers whose names overlapped with His 12 apostles. It’s also interesting that this wasn’t a small family, with five boys and at least two girls. We don’t often think of Jesus in this family context, but I think it’s helpful to do so. The people of Nazareth saw Jesus as too ordinary, but we tend to see Him as too “other” to relate to Him. I’m sure He did His share of riding herd on His brothers and sisters, probably changing diapers and helping with discipline and the like. That’s why it wasn’t until after His resurrection that His brothers could really accept that He was the Messiah. It is telling that those in Nazareth acknowledged that His words were full of wisdom, and they couldn’t deny His miracles, but they couldn’t accept that it was the village carpenter who was doing all this stuff. From our standpoint, the image of a muscular carpenter isn’t the one we’re used to! We all have trouble with preconceptions that block us from receiving what God wants to give us. We imagine how our life is supposed to be, and then resist and rebel when God leads us a different way. We look at things with strictly human eyes, instead of allowing God to show us things as they really are. Jesus would have liked nothing better than to really bless the people of the village where He grew up, but they would have none of it, essentially, because of the “carpenter box” they had put Him into. We need to ask God to show us how we have done the same sort of thing, so that we won’t miss the magnificence of His plans for us.

Growing up as a Third Culture Kid I perhaps have less tendency to box people in than some people do, but that doesn’t mean I am fully accepting. I too need to be willing to hear God no matter who He is speaking through! In my case, I am often turned off by “big church” speakers who try to tell me how to minister in Japan. To be quite honest, what they have to say isn’t universally applicable even in America, much less in other cultural contexts! However, that doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes share things that God wants me to receive. When I put people in boxes I am putting myself in a box as well, and God is in the business of breaking all such boxes. I am to be spiritually discerning, allowing the Holy Spirit to filter my intake, but God has blessed me from unexpected directions many times before, and I am to be open to that. However, when people don’t want to receive what God wants to give them through me, I am to remember what happened to Jesus, and respond to them in love.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Right now the boxes that I deal with most often are those of “holy man” and “foreigner.” The problem with the “holy man” box is that people don’t think they can be like me, which also applies to the “foreigner” box. The latter carries the problem that sometimes I’m never actually heard, because I am seen as simply “other.” Thank You that You understand all of that, and that it isn’t too difficult for You to overcome. I ask that You enable me to speak Your truth in love regardless of how it is received at the time, so that at some point it may penetrate and set people free indeed, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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Witnessing; August 3, 2020

Mark 5:18-19 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

One thing about Jesus was that He wasn’t predictable. Often when he healed someone He told them not to tell anybody, but here He explicitly tells the man to tell his family what had happened to him. I’ve thought about this a good bit over the years, because witnessing is fundamental to what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. (Acts 1:8) The conclusion I have come to is that during Jesus’ earthly ministry there were times when being mobbed was a problem for Him, but this man was from an area that wasn’t as central to His ministry. I think another factor is that this man had no personal pride left, after how he had lived while demon possessed. People who knew him or knew of him – and that was probably just about everybody – knew him as a dangerous, raving maniac. That made the very fact that he could give a clear, logical statement of what had happened to him an impressive testimony to the power of God and the person of Jesus Christ. He didn’t need to know or explain theology, he just had to say, “That is what I was and this is what I am now.” The thing is, every true Christian has a before/after story, whether they realize it or not. Knowing God and walking in obedience to Him makes a difference in your life, and people are going to notice. Not many have a change as dramatic as this man, but change is part of the definition of being born again. We don’t need to go around “bragging about” how bad we used to be, but we need to be honest, with ourselves and with others, that we didn’t deserve God’s salvation; it’s all grace. When we are clear on that, people will indeed ask us how we can be as we are, and we can tell them. (1 Peter 3:15) This is far and away the most effective personal evangelism.

I’m in an awkward situation in this area, because as a Missionary Kid I’ve always been considered one of the “good guys.” The thing is, my sins, though not as obvious, were just as real as those of anyone else. Just recently I was talking with a younger believer and he said he had trouble imagining me like that. As I said, I’m not to brag about my sins, but I am never to think I’ve either earned or inherited my “ticket to heaven.” That is always and only because of the grace of God in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:8-9) In Japan that is further complicated by the fact that I am a Caucasian, and people seem to have trouble grasping that everything I have spiritually is available to them. Racial/cultural identity is very strong in Japan. As a pastor, therefor, I seek to help the believers be willing to share their own stories, but again there is a cultural barrier. Japanese can be intensely private, and tend to maintain emotional distance even as physical distance can be problematical in such a densely populated country. The only real answer is for the Holy Spirit to work in people’s hearts to enable them to open up, so that is what I pray for. I certainly can’t make it happen on my own!

Father, thank You for bringing this up. There was an example just yesterday of someone failing to share both a need they had and a blessing they had received, because they considered them personal. That’s not the pattern You have shown us for Your family. I pray that You would give us courage to open up to You more through opening up to those around us, so that Your grace may flow unhindered through us for the blessing of many, and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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Opposition; August 2, 2020

Mark 3:5-6 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

Reading this, recent congressional hearings in the US immediately came to mind. This is of course another answer to the question of whether Jesus ever got angry, but it’s important to note just what made Him angry. That trigger was obviously some people’s preference for their own rules and political power, if you will, over the good of someone who was obviously in need. That attitude has been distressingly on display a great deal in recent days and weeks. The response of Jesus was to work righteousness, healing the man in need, but the response of those who opposed Him was to plot His death. (The Japanese uses the interesting expression of, “take him away by burial.”) That sort of illogical rage is very much on display these days. Donald Trump is certainly no Jesus, but the opposition to him, both who is doing it and how they are doing it, makes me cheer him on more and more. Fortunately he has gathered some excellent people around him, and they too face the hatred of those in opposition. The Attorney General recently acquitted himself very well indeed in the face of illogical attacks. That’s not to say at all that everything this administration does is correct, but it is to say that those who seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness need to be praying earnestly that all the plans of the devil, whoever he is using, may be thwarted and God’s will alone be done. We need to be careful that when people’s hard hearts make us angry, as happened to Jesus here, we don’t focus on the opposition any more than Jesus did, but rather just keep doing what God has shown us to do.

Political events in the US have gotten closer to home for me than I am used to, certainly. Our younger daughter lives in the Seattle area, and is careful not to go near downtown. My brother lives in Louis­ville, and reported that the turmoil there got very close to him. Reading this morning’s passage reminds me that the underlying reality of it all is spiritual. It is, in the final analysis, spiritual warfare, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t physical consequences. I am to pray, faithfully and earnestly, not simply for those close to me but for the nation and the world, that God’s name would be acknowledged as holy and His kingdom come as His will is done by His imperfect children, including me.

Father, I don’t usually get so political, but this is what You brought to mind. Keep me from compartmentalizing my life. Rather, help me be fully submitted to You in every area, knowing that the Lordship of Christ applies to absolutely everything, with no exceptions. Give me wisdom for every situation, that I may not be led astray by emotions but rather serve as Your agent, even as Jesus did, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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Salvation by Grace; August 1, 2020

Mark 2:17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

This is an enormously important statement on the part of Jesus, and it is actually a huge stumbling block for the salvation of many. Jesus isn’t actually excluding anyone from His call, He is saying that to respond to His call you have to acknowledge that you are a sinner. Sadly, that is what many people refuse to do. Don Francisco wrote a song called Anybody Else but Me that captures this tragedy in an amusing way. Aimed squarely at people in the “Bible belt” of America, it has someone singing, “He was talking to the hypocrites, Pharisees, anybody else but me.” As long as we have that attitude, we can’t receive His salvation. In addressing the church in Laodicea, Jesus made it clear that this is a danger for people who are actually saved as well. “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Revelation 3:17) We have to acknowledge that we are lost in order to be found, that we are poor in order to receive God’s abundance, that we deserve hell in order to receive heaven. This doesn’t mean we are constantly to poor-mouth ourselves, but it does mean that we have to recognize that every good thing we have is by the grace of God, and not something we have created or earned on our own. Some people turn this around and feel you have to have sinned spectacularly in order to get saved, but that’s not the case either. Everyone is worthy of hell because of ignoring God and rebelling against Him in various ways, failing to do what we know He wants and doing things we know are not pleasing to Him. As Isaiah recorded so memorably, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) It is when we recognize and confess that, that we are saved.

This is something I really wrestled with. I wasn’t one of the “bad kids,” and I felt superior to those who fit in that category. I had considerable knowledge of the Bible, and I thought that in itself was a marvelous “merit badge.” It wasn’t until I was in my 20s, already a husband and father, that the Lord tapped me on the shoulder and showed me a mirror so I could see the blackness of my soul. I fell to my knees and cried out, “My Lord and my God.” The fact that was my response tells me I was indeed saved, but just barely. It was from that point that I started to grow spiritually, because I recognized that I had nothing apart from Christ. Looking back over the time before that I can see many times the Lord protected me from major sin, when I was doing nothing to avoid it on my own. That has happened since then, too! God’s grace is indeed amazing, and I am as much in need of it as anyone. I was talking with someone just recently and they said they couldn’t imagine that about me, but God certainly knows, and to a lesser extent I know too. I need to live my life in appropriate gratitude and obedience.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for Your overwhelming grace! Thank You for the blessed time I had yesterday with my missionary brother from Hong Kong. He is younger than my own children but he is very much my brother, and I am grateful. I pray that I would be an open channel of Your grace to all, so that as many as will may recognize their need and receive it, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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Forgiving; July 31, 2020

Mark 2:5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

This is a very interesting incident. It’s the only place I can recall where someone else’ faith was credited for forgiveness. We don’t know all the circumstances, but obviously this man had something about him that made his friends care enough to go to all the trouble they did to get him to Jesus. However, what comes to mind is what Jesus said to His disciples in the upper room after His resurrection: “Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.’” (John 20:21-23) There is much we don’t really understand about forgiving sin! With all that is going on in the world at large, not to mention all that is happening in each individual life, we have plenty of opportunity to learn about forgiveness by doing it. When we learn about something distant from us it is our sense of right and wrong that is invoked, and we have to decide whether to forgive or not. When it is something closer to home that impacts us personally, then it gets real and emotion is fully involved. However, there too forgiveness is a decision. I really don’t know how much authority we have in terms of forgiving distant sins, but I do know that forgiving sins against us personally is of the utmost importance. “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15) There too, Jesus is our ultimate example. He had no sins to need to be forgiven, but even so, on the cross He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) When we really understand how much we’ve been forgiven, forgiving others should be a matter of course, and something we do with joy.

This of course applies to me, as it does to everyone. I feel like I forgive pretty easily, but I still catch myself resenting various things and getting upset about them. As it says in Hebrews, I need to “Fix [my] eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. [I need to] consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that [I] will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:2-3) I’ve certainly not had anywhere near the stuff done to me that Jesus had done to Him, on any level, physical or emotional or social. He will enable me to do what He did, (John 14:12) forgiving many so that they may be brought from darkness to light, from death to life, for the glory of God.

Father, I still don’t fully understand forgiveness, but help me be an instrument of Your forgiveness to many, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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Morning Devotions; July 30, 2020

Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

It is widely agreed that Mark is actually the recorded recollections of Peter, which shows in the next verse specifying that Peter went looking for Jesus at this point. The experience obviously made a significant impact on him. Jesus had just had some very successful ministry, and the natural human response would be to stay and build on that. However, Jesus’ response was to spend time alone with His Father, listening to what He had to say. As a result, in obedience to His commission, he moved on to minister in other places as well. When Jesus Himself placed such a priority on spending time with God and getting lined up with Him, we certainly should do the same. We can certainly identify with the pressures Jesus felt, with all the expectations of the people around Him. We are never completely free from such pressures because society as a whole has expectations, and those who are close to us in various ways have specific expectations. That’s all the more reason to take time every morning to get quiet before God and receive His orders for the day. The very idea of getting up so early in the morning is somewhat “counter-cultural” in most places today, but the biggest barrier is our own inertia. We have to decide that time with God is more important than whatever TV show, or anything else, that might keep us up at night. Our need for sleep is fundamental, and simply sacrificing sleep, which is how a lot of people view morning devotions, does not hold up in the long run. We have to decide that morning time with God is more important to us than whatever tends to keep us up at night. That’s not easy when the world expects us to value those late-night activities. Japanese in general are often chronically short on sleep. Students, particularly from high school through college, have so many demands on their time that sleep is one of the first things to go. Then in the business world it only gets worse, and the lack of sleep is a major factor in the famous Japanese phenomenon of being “worked to death” (karoshi). After a recent case of that, it was found that the young woman in question had been getting about 10 hours of sleep a week. God certainly doesn’t intend for us to live – or die – like that, but we’ve got to make the fundamental decision to listen to Him first, before we consider all the other demands on us. Only then can we get the work/life balance we need to be healthy, happy, and successful.

I am deeply grateful to have had the example of my parents when I was growing up. They didn’t make a big deal of it so I wasn’t always aware of it, but time with God was indeed their first priority. I tried to emulate that when I was in college, more out of a sense of obligation than anything else, but it certainly didn’t last long. It was only after I was a husband and father that the Lord got through to me and I repented of my misplaced priorities, but it has now been over 45 years since I got into the firm habit of starting each day with God. I couldn’t be more grateful. As a pastor I deeply desire that everyone in my care have that same sort of relationship with their Creator, but I can’t force anyone into it. All I can do is pray and set an example, encouraging them by speaking the truth in love.

Father, thank You for this clear reminder. I had been wondering what I was to speak on Sunday! Help me get this into a clear outline, and prepare the hearts of those who will hear the message as well. May Your Word flow through me unhindered and undistorted, to break down the lying fortresses the enemy has set up in people’s minds and hearts, setting them free to be and do all that You intend, for their incalculable blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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Speaking with Authority; July 29, 2020

Mark 1:22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.

I have to say that my first reaction on reading this just now was to remember Preaching class in seminary, where I was required to quote commentaries in every message. To me, that seemed then, and seems now, to be imitating the “teachers of the law,” who go by human precedent rather than communicating what God is saying now. That is evident in Judaism today, when the Talmud is put on the same level as the Torah, but it is certainly evident in Christian churches as well. We are to study to understand history and context and language, but our ultimate source must be the Author of Scripture, the Holy Spirit. When we don’t understand that in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) Jesus was delegating His authority to us, our preaching and teaching will be uncertain and generally off base. There must be an essential humility, understanding that the message does not and must not originate in us, but there should also be an assurance that it is the Word of the Lord, and He will use it to accomplish that for which He sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11) There are as many styles of preaching and teaching as there are preachers and teachers, and none of them are without value. However, teaching history and context and language must always be for the purpose of preparing people to hear the Word of the Lord in all its power and purity. Humanistic preaching comes in many flavors, but none of them have any real spiritual nutrition.

As should be evident by now, I’ve always felt that prophetic preaching was the way to go. That’s not to say predictive, necessarily, but rather speaking out what God is saying. I’ve heard plenty of that, and I’ve also heard plenty of garbage. I don’t want to be a purveyor of garbage! I do not want to claim to speak for the Lord and then say anything that originates in my mind alone. I recognize that each speaker colors what the Lord speaks through us, because of personality and a number of other factors, but I don’t want to add any distortion whatsoever. I’m grateful to say that the Lord often speaks to me through my own mouth, whether or not I recognize it at the moment. I must be on my guard against the human tendency to feel that “I said it, so that settles it.” I am never the ultimate authority! Pride and conceit have been pitfalls for me all my life, but the answer is not to feel that God can’t use me or speak through me. After all, He spoke through a donkey! (Numbers 22:21-33)

Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me be faithful to listen to You consistently, hearing You accurately and communicating Your Word without distortion. May Your authority operate through me to destroy the devil’s works (1 John 3:8) and set people free, (John 8:32) for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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Anger; July 28, 2020

Matthew 21:19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.

Just the other day someone was asking me if Jesus ever got angry, and here we have a pretty clear answer. We’ve just had the report of His clearing the merchants out of the Court of the Gentiles in the temple, (verse 12) and John reports that he even made a whip to do that. (John 2:15) Here, irritated at not finding anything to eat when He was hungry, He cursed a fig tree and it withered, when Mark records that it wasn’t even the season for figs! (Mark 11:13) Actually, when a fig tree is in full leaf is will often have a few “out of season” figs on it, so Jesus’ expectation wasn’t entirely unreasonable. In any case, Jesus was indeed fully human. We tend to paint an impossible image of Jesus, when He was fully human as well as fully divine. That’s why the song, To Be Like Jesus, isn’t at all unreasonable. As Paul said, we are indeed to “put to death” the flesh that is in rebellion against God, (Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5) but that doesn’t mean we become inhuman, it rather means that our humanity comes into line with God, in service to Him. We aren’t to use our humanity as an excuse to sin, (Romans 6:1-2) but neither are we to beat ourselves up over being human. We have created the term, “righteous indigna­tion,” to describe what Jesus felt when He cleansed the temple and such, and we like to claim that for ourselves any time we get angry, but the truth is most often different. That said, there are too many times when we don’t get angry at things that God hates, like human trafficking, abortion and such. We turn things upside down, using anger in destructive ways instead of as a tool in God’s hands. It is not at all that we are never to be angry, but rather that our anger is to be submitted to God and channeled as He intends.

I have a rather strange relationship with anger, because I don’t like to be angry, and so get angry that I’m angry! That’s about as stupid as it sounds, but it’s a pretty accurate description. However, I’m not to fear anger but rather let God use it, as I’ve just written. When Jesus cleansed the temple, His disciples remembered something David had written: “Zeal for your house consumes me.” (Psalm 69:9; John 2:17) I need to be willing to be “consumed by zeal!” At the same time, my wife tells me that I sometimes come across as angry when I don’t consciously feel angry, and that’s not a good thing. Again, I need to be more like Jesus! I am still very much a work in progress, and I need to remember that everyone around me is too, and respond to them accordingly.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me submit all my emotions to You, allowing You to use them to motivate me to do Your will and nothing less, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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