On Being Perfect

Today is Tuesday, September 20, 2016. 24 days until Galveston!

Quote of the Day

“If you would be loved, love, and be loveable.” – Benjamin Franklin

Word of the Day

Circumbendibus – a roundabout way; circumlocution.

Today is Get Ready Day. Get ready for what, you ask? Well, the general idea revolves around emergency preparedness. But I say it could be a lot more fun than just that. For example, we are heading into baseball playoff season. Ten potential teams are Getting Ready! We are rolling headlong into disaster election season. Oh, right. That probably fits with the original theme. Or maybe you could spend the day listening to this:

Speaking of baseball playoffs, the Rangers managed to pull off a weak win (but a “W” is a “W,” right?) last night, in the bottom of the ninth inning. They beat the Angels 3-2. Seattle lost to the Boo Jays (talk about being conflicted on who to cheer for!), so the Rangers magic number is now reduced to three, with eleven games left. They are 9.5 games ahead of Seattle and Houston.

The Red Sox beat the Orioles, 5-2, increasing their lead over the second place teams (yes, Baltimore and the Boo Jays are tied again) to four games, and reducing their magic number to nine, with twelve games left. At this point, it still looks like the Boo Jays and O’s are going to be the wild card teams, unless Detroit can pull off a miracle. The Rangers still have the best record in the AL, but only by three games. They are 6-4 in their last ten, the Indians are 5-5, but the Red Sox are 7-3.

Band practice went well, last night. It was kind of fun, because the next concert is at Southlake’s Oktoberfest, so we’re playing a lot of marches and polkas. I won’t be playing in this particular concert, though. Logistically, it will be simply too difficult to get to, and I don’t want that to affect my playing and participation during the morning’s worship gathering. The concert is at 2:15 in the afternoon, and we are usually supposed to be there at least thirty minutes early. Plus, for events like that, it is necessary to get there even earlier in order to get parking that isn’t a mile away.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. Psalm 119:147

(From Praying With the Psalms)

What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD,
I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.
I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD!
Psalm 116:12-19

Make no mistake, we cannot repay God for our salvation. However, we can perform acts of gratitude, and “render to the Lord for all his benefits.” The work of salvation is finished, but we are not passive. “As active participants in the world of grace, we lift the cup of salvation, pay vows, and offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving–acts of celebration, obedience, and praise.”

“God, though I had no part in causing salvation, I can at least be part of its celebration, heartily and often, in the name of Jesus Christ. Fuse obedience and praise into a perfect unity of response in me. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48

As I read the above verse, I wonder if I have ever seriously examined the context. It is part of Jesus’s teaching on loving our enemies. We all have “natural affinities.” Each of us knows people that we like and people we do not like. “We must never let those likes and dislikes rule in our Christian life,” says Chambers. This reading always socks me in the gut. If I am truly walking in God’s light, he will give me communion with people for whom I have no natural affinity.

Jesus doesn’t tell us that we have to be good people, or even good Christians. No, he admonishes us to “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The bar is raised to a seemingly impossible level! But what it boils down to is simply showing that other person what God has shown us. “To be a disciple means that we deliberately identify ourselves with God’s interests in other people.” That we love each other as Christ has loved us.

These are not expressions of doing good, but of “God-likeness.” If God has transformed me, I will display “Divine characteristics” in my life, “not good human characteristics.”

Father, I am broken. Please fix me. I have allowed likes and dislikes to fuel (and disrupt) my walk with you. Transform me by your grace into someone who exhibits divine characteristics, not human ones. Teach me to love my brothers and sisters in Christ as you have loved me. Help me to show them what you have shown me.

Come, Lord Jesus!

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” . . . Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. (Isaiah 30:15, 18)

Grace and peace, friends.

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