“Now it happened on another Sabbath, also, that He entered the synagogue and taught. And a man was there whose right hand was withered. So the scribes and Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath, that they might find an accusation against Him. But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, “Arise and stand here.” And he arose and stood. Then Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one thing: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy?” And when He had looked around at them all, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. But they were filled with rage, and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.”
Luke 6:6-11 NKJV
Heart of God
God remembers the things we do even when we have forgotten. I read the familiar passage in Luke this morning, and suddenly a memory from long ago sprang into my mind. I had been in the faith for all of three weeks and had stopped by the Quicktrip on my way to church to get a coffee. As I returned to my car, I was approached by a white gentleman, younger than me, who had a van load of children and his wife. He asked if I had money to give him for milk.
I paused for a moment, thinking of my bit of change in my ash tray. I then thought of the white, offering envelope in my pocket. I paused, grabbed the envelope, tore it open and gave the money intended for my offering to the man, as well as the change in my ash tray. For a brief moment I wondered if I had done the right thing. Though I had long ago foregotten, the Lord remembered and reminded me this morning, accompanied by His presence.
In that moment, in the Quicktrip parking lot, I showed the heart of God, as I took what was meant for the Kingdom and gave it directly to the Kingdom. It was the first step of many, following the foot steps of Jesus.
“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
James 1:27 NKJV
The scribes and Pharisees in Luke chapter six were bent on keeping the word, but had long lost the spirit of the law. They no longer had the heart of God, of they ever did. They were caught up in keeping the letter, but had forgotten heart behind it, the heart of the loving Father, full of mercy.
It is easy to become caught up in church life, and made busy and disconnected from the heart of the mission. Humans have a built in propensity to follow rules, to keep routines, or sacraments, but lose sight of the Spirit behind it all. Jesus came to lead us back, to remind us of what is truly important. His word stands as a great corrector, as we stray from the truth.
In that moment in Luke, those in authority were made angry and desired to do something about Jesus. We are entering an era when those who have embraced the world and lost sight of the heart of God will seek to do something about those who continually seek to follow Jesus. They will be persecuted.
Brothers and sisters, let us be faithful to demonstrate the love of God in these perilous times. Our mission is to tell people about Jesus, to tell of His sacrificial death on the cross, a sinless lamb, slain for our sins. Tell of the resurrection, of the newness of life, of the salvation for those who believe and are forgiven of their sins.
We are also here to show the love. People need that these days, as hope is fading and many are finding themselves lost, and forgotten.
It also means reaching out to those, who the more conservative among us, might consider too evil, too lost to merit our attention. Those who appear the most sinful, doing things we find offensive, are often the ones more open to the Gospel.
It is also being alert to those moments when God is working. I will never know what became of that family, long ago in that Quicktrip parking lot, if that moment of witness bore fruit. God does. I won’t know until heaven.
“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.”
Hebrews 13:2-3 NKJV
Maybe they were angels.
Ask the Lord for opportunities to show the heart of God. I remember years ago beginning to volunteer at the Fort Des Moines Correctional Facility. I remember the horror of ministering to men who had abused chidren, being one who had himself been abused as a child. I remember the power of God, transforming my heart from one full of hate, to one dedicated to bringing the Gospel to even those who had done such horrible things.
The heart of God knows no bounds, and is not inhibited by convention. Be willing to be used by God in these coming days, knowing that the Lord did so for you.
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