Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Best Kiss Ever

Psalm 85:10

10 Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
This morning I was sitting here in the early morning awoken from sleep and contemplating the great love and mercy that God has poured out upon my life.  I was thinking of where I had been just three short years ago, how lost I was, and now how God has restored me and given me back so much.  That verse as I read it this morning, “Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other,” sent me to my knees in tears of gratitude.
In Psalm 85:10, the Psalmist says, "Mercy and truth have met together.”  What had kept them apart?  Were they in need of reconciliation?  What enabled them to commune with each other?
Later, in the verse 10, the Psalmist declares, "Righteous and peace have kissed each other."  What was the occasion for this kiss?  Was it a passionate kiss that would have caused onlookers to blush?  Did it possess any significance or was it merely an action motivated by tolerance?  Was it a kiss denoting reconciliation?
Jeremiah was the picture of health, but a yearly physical revealed a possible problem. Upon further examination doctors diagnosed Jeremiah with lung cancer. He demanded a second opinion, got it and it confirmed that he had lung cancer. He demanded a third opinion and it too confirmed he had lung cancer. Unable to cope with such news, he began to show signs of severe depression. One day, to his wife’s joy and amazement, Jeremiah emerged from their bedroom with a smile on his face. When asked why he was so happy he declared, "I refuse to believe I have cancer. The doctors are wrong. The diagnosis is wrong. I never had it, I do not now have and I never will have cancer."  Three months later, Jeremiah died of lung cancer.
Truth can sometimes be a painful thing, facing reality is often a very painful thing.
Philip Dick, author of Minority Report said, "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away."
Often times rather than face reality people deny it, they justify their behavior and make excuses.
Boudreaux and Bobby Joe were drinking a few beers while driving around, when Boudreaux saw a roadblock ahead. He couldn’t turn around, so he told Bobby Joe, "peel the label off your bottle and put in on your forehead."
"Are you crazy?" Bobby Joe replied!
"No! Just do it and let me do the talking," said Boudreaux.
The officer looked at the two of them and asked, "Have you two been drinking and driving"?
"No," replied Boudreaux.
The officer looked at the labels on their foreheads and asked, "Then what’s with the labels on your forehead?”
Boudreaux drew himself up tall in the seat and explained, "Well, officer, we’re recovering alcoholics and our doctor put us on the patch."
Excuses! It’s easier to make them than it is to admit the truth.
We are even reluctant to admit that we are getting older or that we’re over weight.  I know I just had a birthday, and the last time I stepped on the scale, I told my wife it must be broken.
Scripture has diagnosed the human race to be guilty of sin and worthy of death. God says, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God" and "the wages of sin is death."
We all stand before God accused.  How do you plead, guilty or not guilty?  How will you respond to God’s charge against you? What will you say?
 - "I didn’t do it; I’ve never sinned!"
 - "What I did wasn’t a sin!"
 - "I had every right to act that way!
 - "Yeah, but you don’t know what they did to me!"
One of the elders in the church I grew up in would often say, "An excuse is a skin of a reason stuffed with lies."
D. L. Moody said, "Excuses are the cradle in which Satan rocks men to sleep."
It’s amazing the excuses people come up with.
When a four-year-old’s mom asked her why she wasn’t eating, she replied, "I can’t eat; God told me not to." Her mother chided: "God wouldn’t tell you not to eat your supper." She looked up at the ceiling, then conceded, "Well, maybe it was Moses."
When God confronted Adam about Adam’s sin, Adam replied, "It was that woman you gave me."
In his book with Ken Blanchard, Everyone’s a Coach, Don Shula tells of losing his temper near an open microphone during a televised game with the Los Angeles Rams. Millions of viewers were surprised and shocked by Shula’s explicit profanity. Letters soon arrived from all over the country, voicing the disappointment of many who had respected the coach for his integrity.
 Shula could have given excuses, but he didn’t. Everyone who included a return address received a personal apology. He closed each letter by stating, "I value your respect and will do my best to earn it again."
There are two ways to gain respect. One is to act nobly. The other is, when you fail to act nobly, make no excuses.
David tried covering his sin, but when He was confronted by God, he confessed, "Against You and You only have I sinned and done this evil in your sight" (Psalm 51:1).
According to the Apostle John, confession is the only antidote to sin—"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" – 1 John. 1:9
You don’t have to confess it to everyone, but you do need to confess your sin to God.
As long as we deny reality of our sin, then "truth" is an enemy that stands ready to oppose and expose us.  As long as we deny reality of our sin, then "righteousness" demands our punishment, as long as we deny reality of our sin, "peace" will be elusive, and as long as we deny reality of our sin, "mercy" cannot come to our aid.
The Psalmist reports, "Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other." John tells us: “14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.  15 (John bore witness to him, and cried, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.’”)  16 And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace.  17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” – John1:14-17
Where did mercy meet truth, and where did righteousness kiss peace?  At the Cross where the righteous demands of God were met in the death of His Son, at the confession of the truth about our sin, mercy rushes to meet truth, and at the confession of Jesus as our Savior, peace runs to kiss the righteousness imparted to us through His shed blood.
Again, I remind you of John’s statement, "If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" – 1 John. 1:9
In like manner James exhorts us, "confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed" – James 5:16
It is our fear of being exposed by the truth and rejected by the righteous that keeps us from experiencing the relief and the remedy brought about by mercy and peace.  The peace we long for and the mercy we need are ready to run to our side, as soon as we admit the truth.  Actually, there is no other context in which I can handle the truth, but in the context of grace. There is no other place to experience peace, but in the place where we come to faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
Early in 1993 British police accused two ten-year-old boys of the brutal murder of two-year-old James Bulger. The two boys pleaded innocence. The young defendants responded to police questioning with noticeable inconsistency. The climax came when the parents of one of the boys assured him that they would always love him.  Confronted with irrefutable evidence linking him with the crime and the assurance of his parents’ love, the boy confessed in a soft voice, "I killed James."
The power that our sin holds over our lives drops sharply when we first admit its existence to ourselves, then to God, and then to at least one other person whom we trust and know loves and supports us.
The miracle of God’s love is that he knows how evil we are, yet he loves us. We can confess our worst sins to him, confident that his love will not diminish.  He is the way, the truth and the life, but He is also full of grace.
Scripture tells us that after Peter denied Jesus, he went out and wept bitterly. The hours that followed must have seemed like years.
Judas, unable to cope with the emotional pain of his betrayal of Christ, ended a similar experience by taking his own life with a rope and a tree.
Peter’s experience must have also been extremely painful, but his encounter with the Living Christ brings restoration. Instead of being rejected by the resurrected Jesus or put on probation, Peter was embraced by mercy and kissed by peace. He was forgiven and commissioned. It was Jesus who commanded him, "Tend My lambs…Shepherd My sheep…Tend My sheep" (John 21:15, 16, 17).
Two and a half years ago I had failed the Lord miserably, I had abandoned my calling and immersed my life in a bottle.  I stood at “the breaking point,” I had to choose whether to confess the reality of my betrayal of God, or continue to try and hide my sin in a bottle.  The first choice offered life, the second almost certain death, physically and spiritually.  Thank God I chose truth, and righteousness kissed peace in my life once again.
I don’t know what reality you are being called to deal with, but I can assure you that mercy and peace are waiting to smother you in hugs and kisses. Before this encounter can take place, you must first deal with truth and righteousness.
Confess your sin to God—your sinful attitudes and your sinful actions. He will tear the heavens and come down on you in ways that you cannot comprehend or contain. Do it now! This is a kiss you don’t want to miss.

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