After another week at Shorter University…

Several scriptures are on my mind this morning after another week of teaching and being witness to discomfort and discord among some. Yesterday I kept thinking about 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” How difficult this practice is for me, to take every thought captive in obedience to Christ. It requires a perpetual monitoring of my thoughts and keeping a diligent check on my heart. Oftentimes, as I attempt to do this, I find fault in my thoughts and my heart. I believe I am required to do this diligence and to pray for purifying, for renewing of my heart and mind each day, throughout.

As I’ve listened to students grapple with their own understandings and beliefs, and exchange quotes from the Bible amongst themselves, I’ve been reminded that Jesus often quoted old testament scripture. He made clear again and again that He was sent from the Father to do the will of the Father and He acted in complete accord with The One who sent Him. His stated purpose again and again was to fulfill His Father’s will. That has been absent from the dialogue I’ve overheard.

I am forever reminded and personally convicted by 1Peter 1:14-16, “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as He which has called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” Boy does this cover some ground! Holy, set apart unto righteousness, for pure purposes; a high calling for all who take to heart the Words of the Lord.

I’ve heard some harsh and unruly comments, not from students but from some outside of the school, concerning old testament scriptures. Jesus quotes old testament scriptures and He is our Savior. He fulfilled the law and made clear that He was doing so, yet He in no way dishonored the law. 1 Peter 1:19-23 “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you. Who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeined love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently; Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God which lives and abides for ever.”

Over the course of the past weeks, I’ve been reminded again and again about the scripture that tells us there was no guile found in Jesus’ mouth. When I looked it up, this is what I found: “[Christ] Who did not sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judges righteously: Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed. For you were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” How beautiful I find these words to be… Jesus spoke truth. He spoke truth in love. He endured all manner of evil against Him though He was blameless; without sin. He walked according to the righteous purpose for which He had been sent to accomplish, enduring with no harsh rebuttals or defense so that we could return to the good Shepherd for safe keeping in His loving care. This humbles me beyond description and challenges me to live without harshness or defense regardless of the provoke. Only by His control, His Holy Spirit is this even possible for me or any other human. May we live so surrendered that His Spirit truly will determine our hearts, our minds, our words and behaviors.

Feeling heartsick myself over the hurt feelings of so many, I’ve been drawn into deep thought, prayer, and searching. I’ve considered the words I’ve heard and read, pondering over all with sensitivity and concern. These are weighty matters with eternal significance, not to be handled carelessly. I’ve recognized with great clarity that there are many things I don’t understand, much of scripture remains a mystery to me, yet I am forever drawn back to it. I love Hebrews 11. It details how faith has been required and continues to be required of us all. “…without faith it is impossible to please [God]: for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”(11:6) I’ve found this to be true time and again in my own personal journey. In one of my darkest times, God revived me with His Word, He indeed renewed my mind, used His Word to be a lamp unto my feet, proved to be a present help to me in my time of trouble and need. With His Word He comforted me, bringing to mind the many promises I had hidden in my heart and with them His Spirit proved to be The Comforter that Jesus promised would come and dwell in us. May we know Him as our peace today and be in prayer for all who suffer.

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