Archive for November, 2011
“Because we are members of His body” (Ephesians 5:30).
Besides “family” another metaphor found in the New Testament to describe the church is that of a “body.” It speaks to both our unity and diversity. Like the human body, the body of Christ is made-up of a wide variety of unique parts with unique capabilities; each one working in unity in response to how the head leads. For the church, Christ is the head of the body. It’s a matter of both relationship and responsibility.
“All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household” (Philippians 4:22).
As campus statistics continue to climb in the incidence of teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, and crimes against property, school is a difficult place to live for Christ. Because most people punt their faith when they punch the time-clock, and exchange principle for profit, the workplace can be a very challenging environment in regard to faith. The pressure to compromise and conform is overwhelming. Thus, even one’s social life becomes an arena hostile to a steadfast faith.
Yet, I’m convinced that if there could be saints in the persecuting environment of Caesar’s household, there can be saints in any of these other challenging environments.
“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are your works, and my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139: 13-14).
Shackled by feelings of inferiority? Many do not like who they are or what they have become. They suffer from an identity crisis; having lost their sense of destiny. The psalmist offers a simple reminder of our worth; that God was involved in weaving together the material that came out as you and me. Ours is not a biological heritage dictated by genetic predisposition, but a spiritual heritage with limitless possibilities.
“And I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28).
The confidence of our salvation is based on what God has accomplished through the work of his Son and not our works of righteousness. To be born again in Christ Jesus, through faith, settles the matter once-and-for-all. The very nature of salvation demands that it be a once-and-for-all experience. Forty-three times the New Testament speaks of salvation as “eternal” or “everlasting”life. If you can have it and then lose it then salvation would be something other than eternal and everlasting. It would be have to “temporary” or “conditional.”
Give thanks for His protective hand.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
Faith initiates a life-changing conversion experience. It is a belief so pervasive and comprehensive that its evidence is borne out in one’s attitude, actions, priorities, and ambitions. Whether age 8 or 80, if there is no change there has been no conversion.
“Is it nothing to all you who pass this way” (Lamentations 1:12)?
I saw a bumper sticker that read, “Our greatest problem is apathy…but who cares.” Sadly, if we do not guard against it, apathy and indifference can find its way into the life of God’s people. The apostle, John, would allude to this when he described the church at Laodicea as being neither “hot nor cold.” We can never make a difference with attitudes of indifference.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called out out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
There is a childlike excitement when crossing the Mississippi River bridge between Delta, Louisiana and Vicksburg, Mississippi. I marvel at its structure, its expansiveness, the integrity of its engineering. It is a testimony to human achievement.
Greater still is the bridge building endeavors of the Master Engineer himself. The word “priest” literally means “bridge builder.” That we are referred to as a “royal priesthood” means that we have direct access to the Father because of the work of salvation accomplished by his son Jesus. No other alternate routes are available or necessary. It is a testimony to God’s love and power.
“To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood…–to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:5-6).
Regarding God’s love for us, the verb tense indicates that there has never been and never will be a time when we are not loved by God. Of greater significance is the order of the verbs, “loves us” and “released us.” He loved us and then he released (washed) us from our sins. He didn’t clean us up and then love us because we were worthy of being loved. He loved us when when we were dirty, rebellious, unbelieving, and unregenerate. Because he loves us, he released us.
“Then the Lord said, ‘Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote…’” (Isaiah 29:13).
While we could each speak of the advantages of going to church, science has now joined the conversation. Research continues to show the physiological benefits of regular church attendance, such as less arteriosclerotic heart disease. If our hearts are not guarded, however, there is a danger in going to church. There is a very real possibility that you can be absent even while being in attendance; that you go to church each week and your heart and mind be a million miles away. Avoid the danger…draw near with your heart.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;…” (2 Timothy 3:16).
Though penned by some forty different individuals from varying walks of life; from all parts of the known world over the course of some 1500 years, the Bible has stood the test of time. With the capacity to span all cultural gaps, the Bible remains as our standard bearer; second to no other competing authority in matters of faith and practice. That it is inspired by God means that it has been “breathed” by Him, for the purpose of breathing life into His community. Take a deep breath.