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Archive for May, 2011

RED LETTER JOURNEY
CRITICAL CARE
PART 1: CRITICAL SPIRITS
Matthew 7

What other people think of me is becoming less and less important. What they think of Jesus because of me is CRITICAL. CLIFF RICHARDS (1940– )

In the weeks to come, my blog will deal with a series on Critical Care based on a portion of the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 7. This is the first installment.

Matthew 7:1-5“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

One definition of critical is to make severe or negative judgments.

In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers wrote: The average Christian is the most piercingly critical individual known.

Do you believe that’s true? I don’t know about you, but I personally have known many judgmental Christians in my day. And, if I’m completely honest, I’ve been that Christian on more than one occasion. How about you?

Several years ago, I watched one of those movies that make you ask, “Why in the world did I waste two hours watching that?” It was about a group of adults who returned to their childhood camp for a weekend retreat. While this movie had no significant eternal value, there is one scene I’ve never forgotten. One of the women considered having an affair with a married man—her childhood sweetheart. She approached a mirror and paused to stare at her reflection. Words were painted on the glass: This Mirror Is Clean – Are You? The one redeeming quality of that flick was that at that moment, the woman decided against the affair.

I’ve printed those words on my makeup mirror as a daily reminder to examine my own life. If I spend enough time looking in the mirror at that massive 4×4 protruding out of my eye, I won’t be so quick to see the microscopic speck of dust in another’s eyes. And neither will you.

Paul wrote in Romans 2, verses 1-3: You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.

We may not be guilty of the same exact sin as someone else, but God doesn’t grade sin on a curve. To Him, sin is sin is sin. Any disobedience or transgression against God is sin.

Chambers continued: Stop having a measuring stick for other people. There is always at least one more fact, which we know nothing about, in every person’s situation. I have never met a person I could despair of, or lose all hope for, after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God. Criticism serves to make you harsh, vindictive, and cruel, and leaves you with the soothing and flattering idea that you are somehow superior to others.

Later Matthew 7 tells us to test the fruit of others to see if they are genuine. In 1 John 4, we are told to test the spirits. Both of these passages are instructions for us to discern if someone is a false prophet or teacher. I believe there is a difference between testing someone’s actions and judging the person.

The dictionary defines it this way:

Judge is to THINK or hold as an OPINION

Test is to EXAMINE carefully, to SCRUTINIZE to see whether a thing is genuine or not.

Our opinion affects how we view others, and it is often skewed by past experiences with a person. Left to our own devises, we make judgments based on human logic and emotions. That’s why it can be so dangerous. Testing their actions requires careful analysis and examination of what they do, not who they are.

Only God our Father knows every detail of a person’s life. Only God has all the facts. Only God can make a proper and righteous judgment on a person.

If we aren’t careful, we can become prideful and think we are somehow better than others. We can judge them falsely and thus elevate ourselves to a higher place.

Jesus tells us to take the plank out of our eye so we can see to HELP our fellowmen remove the dust from their eyes. Don’t forget, when God does call us to confront someone about their actions, we are always to approach them “in love” as Paul did in his letters to the churches.

So, today, I leave you with one question.

Have you looked in the mirror lately?

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Peace. Be Still.

Peace. Be Still.


A Poem based on Matthew 8
By
Deb Shirley

Are You willing, Lord, to calm the raving sea?
If not, then will You anoint us with Your peace?
Lord, are You willing to still the mighty wind?
If the answer’s ‘no,’ then comfort will You send?

Are You willing, Lord, to shift the hurricane?
Or if it reaches land, will You our lives sustain?
Lord, are You willing to halt the raging floods?
If not, then will You prove that You’re still good?

Are you willing, Lord, to cease the forceful quake?
If not, then will You soothe our souls in its wake?
Lord, are you willing when fires blaze to send the rain?
If You choose to not, then our faith will You maintain?

In our weakness, Lord, You promise to be strong.
In our trials You’re the One for whom we long.
Teach us, Lord, that on You we can depend.
Hold us in Your arms, our hearts and souls defend.

You are the One who lights our darkest paths.
Who protects us in the storm and even when it’s passed.
You are the Way, You are the Truth, You are the Life.
No other can compare! No other has Your might!

You are our Refuge and the Rock on which we stand.
You are the Cornerstone, Strong Tower in this land.
You are our Strength, our Shepherd, and our Guide.
Our Ever-Present Help, on You we can rely.

So, we will trust You, Lord, whenever storms arise.
Under Your wings secure, safe there we will abide.
And then remain with You until our dying day.
In faith, until the end, forever there we’ll stay.

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