Top o’ the mornin’ to ye, ahr afternoon, ahr evenin’!
March is such a moody month with its blustery wind, rain, blindingly bright sunshine, and even snowfalls sprinkled throughout – and don’t get me started about the car temperatures which are just as unpredictable this time of year, will we be entering an icebox or a sauna? Hop in and find out! I love March, some of my favorite people were born during this month, you can smell spring coming, the grass begins to turn green, the days get a little longer, and everyone starts to wake up from the hibernating daze of winter. Also, there’s a rather unusual holiday we celebrate in March as well – do ye see whe’r I’m goin? That’s right, I’m heading to Ireland. Well, not literally but if you walk in a local Dollar Store you might think you have found your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow if your idea of gold is paper clover décor, plastic Leprechaun hats, and all things green and GOLD! Anyways, whenever I think of St. Patrick’s Day, I can’t help but think of my father-in-law telling my kids a joke and never being able to get through it without cracking up! Are you ready for it? He’d say, “Junior! Baby Girl! Listen to grandpa now, ‘How many beans are in Irish bean soup’?” Then he’d start cackling waiting for them to respond, “I don’t know grandpa, how many?” He’d take a deep breath and then say, “239! Because if they added one more it’d be too farty!” Surprisingly, yet not surprisingly, Mac found this joke to be much funnier than Gwenn did.
A few years ago, my mom took one of those ancestry tests and she was not surprised to learn that she has some Irish ancestry. Her brother Jerry was also born on St. Patrick’s Day! (Yes, the name should sound familiar, I was named after my Uncle Jerry, no his middle name was not Lynne!). Growing up, my mom would make corned beef and cabbage for dinner and I tried to remember to wear green to school because some of my friends really took the pinching thing quite seriously. Which by the way, do you know why you are supposed to wear green so you don’t get pinched? Apparently, wearing green makes you invisible to leprechauns and leprechauns like to pinch people sooo if you don’t wear green, they can see you. What can I say? The Irish like to have some fun! I love when people celebrate their roots, their history, and are excited to share it with others!
One of the most famous phrases associated with St. Patrick’s Day is “Kiss me, I’m Irish!” which comes from the legend of the Blarney Stone that when kissed was believed to bring luck to the kisser – pucker up? Did you know that kissing is mentioned in the Bible over 40 times? A kiss in the Bible has many different meanings such as the sealing of a promise, yielding in submission, and symbolizing death or life. I thought about the different kisses and what they meant, the consequences of some, and the role a simple kiss played in the life of Christ – as we begin to reflect on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, let’s take moment and focus on two very different occasions where a kiss occurred and how our Savior reacted!
First let’s look at Luke 7:36-50 which tells of a woman, who knew she was a sinner and receives forgiveness of her sins. She saw Jesus for Who He was, and is, and is to come. Verses 37-38, “And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed him with the ointment.” She knew that Christ could do for her, what she could not do for herself. She had faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. This woman quite literally declared Psalm 63:3, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” Her kiss led to life.
Next let’s look at Mark 14:43-46, specifically verses 44-45, “Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.’ And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, ‘Rabbi’ and he kissed him.” This kiss led to the arrest of Jesus. This man was paid to betray Jesus, a rather paltry sum I might add, especially considering Who he was betraying. This man was short-sighted and mad because he didn’t get his way, and before you go judging him too harshly, while jumping on the tallest and highest horse you can find, remember we’ve all betrayed our Jesus in some way, shape, or form (and most of you can’t ride a pony and have no business riding a tall horse anyway, myself included). How my heart aches for this man, to have been SO close to eternity with his Creator, and to literally kiss it goodbye. Proverbs 27:6, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” His kiss led to death.
Both of these kisses impacted more than the immediate parties.
Both of these kisses cost something.
Both of these kisses revealed something. Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Jesus knew the heart of both the man and woman. He knew their motives. He died for not only their sins but for the sins of the whole world. He loves you beyond measure, but He will not force you to love Him or choose Him… that decision is entirely up to you. You have two choices, one leads to life the other death. For those who have already made that choice, live your life in a way that others can’t help but want to give Jesus their heart and live.
P.S. SWAK means Sealed With A Kiss…
Read: Matthew 6:19-24 & 2 Timothy 2:15-20
Consider: How is a person able to tell the difference between the real deal and a knock-off version? They become familiar with the authentic thing. Not just kind of familiar but an expert. This means the person knows the real thing inside and out: how it feels, smells, tastes, and sounds! I once learned how to tell the difference between a real pearl and a fake pearl – you bite it – if it’s gritty then it’s real, if it’s not gritty then it is fake. I worked with a lady who was able to tell counterfeit money just by the feel of the paper! It is important to be able to know the difference between real gold and fool’s gold or the real deal and the fake deal because there are knock-off versions of everything everywhere!
Oftentimes, forgers use a small amount of the genuine piece to trick unsuspecting individuals into purchasing their bogus product. We are often outraged if we have been fooled in such a scheme but hardly bat an eye when we are faced with false teachings of the Word of God! 2 Timothy 2:15, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” To rightly handle the word of truth is a serious command that sometimes we forget to take seriously. In Acts 17:11 we see that followers of Christ studied the Scriptures to ensure they were being taught the Truth, “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” One way to recognize and counter false teachings is to know the Truth. We must hide God’s Word in our hearts.
What are the positive and negative aspects of studying heretical beliefs?
You want to be able to withstand attacks from the enemy? You must know your enemy. Once you put a face to the enemy, it becomes much easier to defeat them. It also takes some of the fear of the enemy away too – remember those episodes of Scooby-Doo where the gang chases down a “ghost” (Zoiks!) but after every episode it ends up being an ill-intentioned yet somewhat clumsy villain like “Mr. Greenfield.” Knowing the various heretical beliefs enables the follower of Christ to be able to unmask the lies behind them when compared to the Truth found in the Word of God. Psalm 119:15-16, “I will meditate on our precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.”
Negative aspects of studying heretical beliefs are failing to recognize potential pit-falls that lead us to believe false doctrine. Pride can cause many a wise-person to become foolish in the belief that they know everything. 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Therefore let anyone who think that he stands take heed lest he fall.” We often try to fit an infinite God into a human and finite definition and standard of who we believe God should be.
It’s ok to not know everything, it is not ok to declare one cannot know everything about God and therefore not deign to get to know Him and His Word. Develop a personal relationship with God and it will become much more difficult to fall into heretical beliefs and teachings. Psalm 119:105, ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
To-Do: Where are you storing your treasure? What tools do you use in your personal life to distinguish between real and fake, the truth and prettily packaged lies?