Archive for April, 2011
“For His lovingkindness is everlasting” (Psalm 136:1-26).
We hear often the challenge of scripture to “give thanks in all circumstances.” What, with all the varied circumstances that can come against us in life, have you ever wondered how this is even possible? This Psalm reminds us that it’s not so much a question of “what”—What circumstances?—but “why”—“Why be thankful?”
From God acting in creation, to the highs and lows of Israel’s history the psalmist describes twenty-six various circumstances and, yet, for each one the prevailing attitude is one of thanksgiving. Why? Because of the circumstances? No! This is the reason—“For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” In all our circumstances this is the one thing that prevails.
“The idols of the nation are but silver and gold, the works of man’s hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak; they have eyes but they do not see; they have ears, but they do not hear, nor is the there any breath at all in their mouths. Those who make them will be like them, yes, everyone who trusts in them” (Psalm 135:15-18).
Idol’s have nothing to do with statuary but, rather, that which is the recipient of the very best of our time, energy, giving, thoughts, and actions. By this definition, we are all guilty of idol worship. If we idolize the risen Christ, we have a mouth that offers words of hope; eyes that see both brokenness and possibilities; ears that hear the despairing cries of those victimized by injustice, and a breath that shouts for those who have no voice. It is true, we become like the One/one in whom we place our trust. Choose the One that transcends this earthly realm.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6).
One of the most cherished experiences life can offer is that of a treasured friend; one with whom you share and experience, together, the seasons and chapters of life. It is one from whom you receive even painful words of truth because you know they speak for your benefit. We are a better person because they are part of our life.
In contrast to such a faithful friend, beware of those who offer the kiss of flattery. As portrayed by Judas, such kisses are not what they appear to be.
Blow farewell kisses to those who come to you in deceit. Embrace and nurture your true friends.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them and they will never perish; and no will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John10: 27-29).
This past weekend, during an Easter event, I was playing with a group of children trying to pry candy from my hand. With the vice-gripped clench I had on the pieces, I didn’t think they could possibly accomplish the task. Finally, one of the three was able to get hold of my finger and wrench it in such a way that I had to open my fist, and the candy fell out.
I’m grateful that our Lord holds us in such a way that no amount of wrenching, scheming, or other efforts by the evil one can pry us from the Father’s hand. The very nature of our relationship with Christ demands that it be a once and for all experience. Forty-three times in the New Testament salvation and the Christian life is described as eternal life or everlasting life. By definition, these two terms mean that the life of salvation is something that can never be lost. To have it and then lose it means it had to be something other than eternal and everlasting; it would have to be temporary life or conditional life.
Face the day with the confidence of His firm grip on your life.
“A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold. The rich and poor have a common bond, the Lord is the maker of them all” (Proverbs 22:1-2).
What’s in a name? A great deal of thought is given to the naming of a child. Around my teenage years, I started disliking my name—Bobby; not Robert; just Bobby. I humorously say that my parents had no vision for my life beyond little league baseball. At other stages in life we worry not about the name we were given but, instead, making a name for ourselves. It’s a matter of one’s reputation; how one is going to be known and remembered. But there is something more important than ones reputation. A reputation is what others think you are. Character is what you know you are. A reputation can be false, but the man in the mirror never lies. He knows us for who we really are. While many will respond, “to be financially rich” when asked what they desire more than anything else, a far greater wealth to be desired is a good name. It will buy you more than the purchasing power of any amount of dollars.
“And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).
You are in a unique position. Two thousand years removed from the first Easter Sunday, you have received that for which the disciples were instructed to wait–the gift of the Spirit. The time between the resurrection and our Lord’s ascension into heaven was 40 days, culminating on the Day of Pentecost, and the the Spirit of the living Christ descending upon the gathered believers.
As you get dressed for the day remember that beyond the wardrobe hanging in your closet, you are clothed with power because of a Savior who hung on a tree. Live your day with power from on high.
“But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves” (Luke 23:24).
On this day, 2000 years ago, the worst of humanity set itself against the very best of God. Strange, isn’t it, that such a day would come to be called, of all things, Good Friday? Even so, what would emerge in the face of such hate, hostility, and violence was the most amazing declaration of love in the discourse of human history–”Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
While waiting for Sunday, this makes for a good Friday.
“Jesus said, ‘You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last’” (John 15:16).
The experience of not being the one chosen is always hurtful. Whether it’s the one not being selected when sides are chosen on the grade school playground, or the one being passed over for the job promotion, it leaves us feeling rejected; wondering what is wrong with me? Why were they chosen and not me?
For all that have had such negative experiences and emotions it’s inspiring to know that the One whose opinion matters most has chosen you; chosen you not for trivial things such as kickball games or the leading role in office politics, but for something that matters–the bearing of spiritual fruit; chosen to represent Him and to be His messenger.
Live as one who has been chosen.
“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord have never forsaken those who seek you” (Psalm 9:10).
“Never” is a pretty bold claim. Anytime I hear someone make the declaration of “never”, it “always” raises a brow of suspicion. Even in school, one of the first things we learn regarding true/false testing is that statements making claims of “never” and “always” are normally false; that nothing is “never” and “always.” We have all experienced the heartache, disappointment, and betrayal of those who said they would “never…” or they would “always…” only to find out they did and didn’t. This is why our eyes and confidence must always be on the Lord. He is the only One who will NEVER forsake us.
You NEVER have to doubt this.
“By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks” (Hebrews 11:4).
How you live today is significant. In a cumulative way, your choices, decisions, relationships, actions, words, work ethic, and attitude are building for those around you a reservoir of memories. It is these memories that will continue to speak of us long after we are gone. If we live well the life of faith, it is a legacy that will be handed down from generation to generation.
“The memory of the righteous will be a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot” (Proverbs 10:7).
Instead of letting others talk about us after we are gone, we should strive to let the life we lived do the talking for us.