He Gave Him No Answer

But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed Matthew 27:14 ESV

I have a small confession to make. Some days I love to complain. I complain about the weather. I complain about my church, my kids and even my wife. Some nights as I lay my head on the pillow and replay the whiny remarks which I made I wonder how I could have been so unkind and wish I had kept my lips sealed.

Jesus on the other hand had no shortage of things to complain about. But on the worst die of his short life, Jesus encouraged a thief; made sure His mother was taken care of and forgave His enemies. How could He do that? What was His secret?

Some years ago I was bringing a truckload of branches to our local landfill. At the entrance was a one story cement block booth with an attendant who checked each vehicles weight. As I pulled up to get our weigh in slip, I saw there by the side of the operator’s window a small sign with an arrow pointed up stating, “Complaint department upstairs!”

How can we be patient like Jesus, when others mistreat or abuse us physically or verbally? The answer is in knowing where the complaint department is located. Telling our neighbors, our family or our enemies the way we feel won’t help. Our only response is to quietly trust that our cry is heard by the only one who can deliver us. Then in the same way that Jesus did we can give ourselves into the hands of the one who loved us and gave His life for ours.

A Quiet Listening Heart

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful Colossians 3:15

Even with cell phones, computers and dozens of social agencies one of the greatest problems we face today is loneliness. It still feels as if no one is listening. God’s word points us to His solution: the peace of Jesus Christ. The first peace we need is peace with God. When we come to Jesus Christ He releases us from trying to be good enough because in Him we discover that no matter what; He loves us. He came into the world to sit with sinners and His cry of forgiveness from the cross quiets our hearts. Secondly the Bible points out that we are called into one body with everyone else who belongs to Him. God designed us with a longing to belong; and that longing is met in connection with His people. He shows us that our own loneliness does not give us an excuse to isolate ourselves but instead we should take the initiative to listen to someone else’s hurts.  Listening brings us all together. Along our journey towards peace we finally also discover peace with ourselves. After spending our lives struggling trying to be special we find peace only when we discover that everyone (including us) is special to God. In the moment that we find out that God has been listening to us all along His peace begins to perfectly reign. Once His wonderful peace  in we will begin to hear. There in a quiet heart we will be able to truly listen and to hear the hearts of others and of God.

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Simplicity

For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. 2 Corinthians 1:12 ESV

Last summer we were blessed by some friends with the invitation to stay for free at their cottage which they call Simplicity. We spent three glorious days there watching eagles fish in the lake and enjoying quiet days walking or reading as there was no TV, internet or cell phone access. It was a refreshing time of refocusing our hearts and relearning how to truly decompress from the craziness of 21st century life.  P1040658

Focus is what the Apostle Paul meant when he said they lived with simplicity. He did not allow anything to the obscure the simplicity of His Christian life. When we get mixed up with unnecessary entanglements of our time, thoughts or relationships we lose focus. Time alone on a week-end retreat may help for a while but Paul tells us that God’s solution is for us to have a life lived in complete reliance on grace. When things start to blur the focus of our soul; we need to stop and ask God to clear our minds of clutter so we can once again live simply by the grace of Jesus Christ.

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