Today’s Reading: Genesis 3:1-3 NIV
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden; and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
We have a new kitten in our home. We named her Faith, and what a name it is! I have been blessed to watch my Faith grow every single day. She is rambunctious and playful, quick and alert. We are doing our best to teach her not to bite or scratch; yet, our pretty kitty does not always choose to do the right thing.
Last weekend, I insisted that Jeff bring up a small Christmas tree from the basement, so that we could practice having Faith around it before we tried to decorate the parsonage for the upcoming holidays. This has been quite a test of faith. She is so attracted to the tree that we have a hard time keeping her from it. Every day, she shakes its branches until all of the plastic ornaments roll all over the floor. She has ripped off the silver ribbon and made it her personal play toy. We have raised our voices at Faith, correcting her and sending her to kitty time out. We have sprayed the tree with a cat stink potion purchased from a local pet supply store. Nothing seems to work. Faith is determined to take that Christmas tree out, and has made it her personal mission in life.
Watching Faith climb the tree reminds me of what we are like, as sinners, unwilling to let go of the things that separate us from God. He loves us so much, He sent His Son to teach and train us in the way that leads to life eternal. But just like our baby kitten, we find ourselves up the proverbial tree with no where to go but down. When we sin, we not only harden our own hearts, we bring havoc upon our whole house. When kitty chooses to destroy the tree, she makes a colossal mess that I end up having to clean up. Over and over again, she is relentless in her pursuit, refusing to leave her fatal attraction alone. That same sin nature lives within each of us. We must learn to set aside all the worldly distractions that corrupt our hearts and minds and eventually destroy our souls. When will we listen and obey God’s Word?
This morning, I find great comfort in praying the words of the Beatitudes. This Scripture is some of Jesus’ teaching in His Sermon on the Mount, found in the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. I pray the words like this, “Lord, teach me to be poor in spirit; Lord, teach me to mourn; Lord, teach me… Every instruction from Jesus gives life to the lifeless, hope for the hopeless. It goes against our human nature and yet, we are to strive for Christ-likeness. Jesus calls us to leave the temptations behind that distract us from Him. He wants us to come out of our trees and live purpose-filled lives, focused on His will and His way. Just like the smell of the cat stink spray we use on our Christmas tree to deter young Faith, our sins are a stench before the Lord. If we want to live like Jesus, we must pray His Words over our lives every day.
Won’t you take a minute to read the entire fifth chapter of Matthew with me today. Jesus is the only one who can bring you down from the tree that you have climbed up, chasing your sinful follies instead of focusing completely on Him. Jesus carried all of our sins and chose to hang on a cruel tree in obedience to the Father’s will and simply out of love for you and me, so that we might be finally free. Won’t you come down from the sin tree and run to Jesus Christ today? Let Him lead you in the way that leads to life eternal. Exercise your faith today!
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO
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