Archive for October, 2011
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
The Hebrew word translated as “troubled” was originally associated with cramped quarters. In other words, when you are feeling constricted; when the world is pressing in, we can be assured that God’s presence is our refuge and strength. He both protects and fights. He is both shield and sword.
“Then Job answered, ‘I have heard many such things; Sorry comforters are you all. Is there no limit to windy words’” (Job 16:1-3a)?
“Sorry comforters.” There is a sermon in these words alone. Chapter after chapter has been filled with the rampant verbosity of friends offering speculation has to why all the terrible things that happened to Job occurred. Someone has expressed it well, “Life is not a series of complex riddles to be solved but events and tragedies to be endured and lived through.” In times of suffering, the last thing a person needs is vain attempts to explain why. In our compelling need to say something, we inevitably say what we shouldn’t. The most comforting ministry is one of presence and knowing what not to say.
“A certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel in a joint of the armor. So he said to the driver of the chariot, ‘Turn around and take me out of the fight, for I am severely wounded.’ The battle raged that day, and the king of Israel propped himself up in his chariot in front of the Arameans until the evening: and at sunset he died” (2 Chronicles 18:33-34).
An Assyrian soldier, bored and bunkered down, fires off a random shot with his bow. Lucky? Coincidence? Hardly. One way or another the will and purposes of God will be accomplished. The Apostle Paul states, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). It doesn’t say God causes all things to happen or that all things that happen are good. It simply assures us that good or bad, God can use all things to accomplish his greater purposes. What you and I must decide each day is whether we will trust in His plan and be committed to it, or ultimately be apart of it by our own folly or foolishness.
“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).
Ours is a culture that interprets freedom as the right to whatever one wants to the exclusion of responsibility and obligation. Thus, substantive moral, social, and political issues such as abortion or euthanasia are decided by the argument of individual rights with no consideration given to the greater good of those who must live together in community. We are enamored with with personal rights and self-fulfillment. Freedom, moral or political, was never intended as license to do as we please, but a responsibility to act for a greater good.
“So Peter, seeing him (John) said to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!’” (John 21: 21-22).
Instead of worrying about his own foibles, weaknesses, and areas of needed improvement, Peter is concerning himself with the fate of John. Given his track record, one would think Peter would give greater attention to his capacity to follow Jesus and to live out the expectations of the Lord. Our faithful “followership” of Jesus should never be determined by what others are doing or not doing. If our desire is to pursue in earnest the path that the Lord has set before us then our plate is full and there is no time for the distraction of petty concerns.
I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that you may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
As a people longing for a faith that defines our lives, each day, event, encounter, conversation and circumstance brings us to a point of decision. Presented with various courses of action, attitudes to be held, and words to be spoken, we are deciding what best represents our devotion to Christ and the desire to care more, give more, and love more. Once decided, it is in that moment we make a definitive statement about the work of Christ in us and the quality of our faith to mold and shape our lives. None of the day’s decisions are insignificant. Choose well.
“Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’” (John 19:30).
While the words carried a tone of finality for those who heard them, Jesus’ declaration expresses far greater implications and possibilities. What is finished is the power of sin to bury us under guilt and the power of death to terrify us. Jesus finished, fulfilled, and completed God’s redemptive plan on the cross. Even so, unless we daily crucify ourselves, the work of the Father, and what he is seeking to accomplish in our lives, remains unfinished.
“Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).
The popular adage, “It’s the thought that counts,” shouldn’t be taken lightly. To be in the forefront of someones mental processes is to hold a special place. It means you are part of that persons ongoing, unceasing prayer life. However, there are times when our thoughts don’t count; when only action matters and specific deeds will make a difference; when we need to be the answer to the prayer; when our intention to do something is replaced by actually doing it.
On any given day, God can do more with an ounce of action than a ton of intentions.
“Do not say, ‘Why is it that the former days were better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this”(Ecclesiastes 7:10).
Longing and lamenting for the “good ol’ days” is both an exercise in futility and a flawed understanding of the redemptive purposes of God and his providential plan. What God is accomplishing always lies ahead and never behind us. Consider the very best period of your life or a time in past history when you would say, “That’s the way things are suppose to be.” If that be so then why would God continue in his creative endeavor of making all things new? Whatever your longings might be for a by-gone era, it pales in comparison to the future God has in store. Wisdom understands that the road of faith leads to a future that eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared.
Wise up…Look ahead!
“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
Surprisingly, your greatest point of vulnerability may well be at the point of your greatest strength. While we pray and offer to the Father those facets of life that we know to be weak, and commit these to Him for protection, we keep to ourselves those arenas of life that we consider our strength and places of least temptation. Satan searches for these places where we arrogantly stand alone; knowing that it is in these circumstances that he can best accomplish a fall. If we are not careful and prayerful in all things, our supposed place of strength can become the precipice for our fall.