Archive for December, 2011
“but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Notice, Jesus didn’t say, “You shall do witnessing.” He said, “You shall be My witnesses.” Doing is a product of being. When it comes to witnessing and evangelism, what is of utmost importance is being one before doing the work of one. Of first importance as followers of Jesus is to live obediently; that the fruit of the Spirit is borne out in such a way as to make the life of faith contagious and appealing. Emerson said it well: “What you are speaks so loud, I cannot hear what you say.”
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16).
I followed the lead of my one cousin who dared to dive headlong into the cold waters of my grandparents spring-fed tank. The youngest cousin stayed out completely, declaring the waters too cold to be enjoyable. Another waded in up to her waist, teeth chattering, refusing to go any further. Being half in and half out is a miserable place to be. Yet, many professing believers find themselves in that very position of precariousness. They are lukewarm, indifferent, detached, unconcerned, and uninvolved in the work of God. Be one or the other–hot or cold, in or out, light or dark. Nothing is more miserable than half in and half out.
“His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house will consume Me’” (John 2:15).
Most have in mind a picture of Jesus that is without biblical basis. He is envisioned as being somber; lacking in passion. Thus, many are surprised to discover that scripture portrays Jesus as a man of great zeal for the things of God; an enthusiastic faith. Might it, then, compel us to embrace, live, and portray our faith with the same vitality and dynamism as did Jesus. A consuming faith is a compelling faith.
“Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them’” (Luke 15:2)
That Jesus received sinners means he welcomed them. He opened wide the door of his heart and welcomed them as friends. It was indicative of his redeeming nature and the heart of God. Religious people, on the other hand, grumble against, point fingers at, and accuse sinners. It makes them feel better about themselves. As the church, the body of Christ, our role isn’t that of a religious gate-keeper for qualified saints, but a people who open the door to sinners and say, “Welcome.”
“…to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
Not only does Paul state the goal–maturity–he sets before us the embodiment of our goal–Jesus. He is the only standard by which we measure our lives. He walked as every man should walk. He loved as every man should love. He trusted God as every man trusted God. He modeled complete maturity. Though ours is incomplete it is His to which we aspire.
“For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3).
While the prophet longs for an immediate solution, God’s word comes as a reminder that His work is accomplished on another timetable; a timetable not dictated by a watch or calendar. For a time conscious generation, this is a difficult lesson. We are the only country with a mountain named Rushmore. Instead of futile demands that God work on our schedule, we must wait faithfully and patiently as His purposes are being accomplished. It’s a matter of timing…His.
“Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, thought the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).
In those times when faith comes hard, we can respond in one of four ways. The first response is to become bitter and resentful; to decree that God is unfair. The second is to seek total intellectual understanding; to demand of God an answer. The third reaction is to life’s difficulties is one of grim resignation; that this is just the way it is. The more faithful response, however, is seen in the words of the prophet–to keep believing, to keep trusting even though everything seems to be failing. Present circumstances are never permanent. Keep believing even though…
“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples” (John 15:8).
The proof of discipleship is borne out in the bearing of fruit. Fruit is a metaphor for the outward evidence of the Spirit’s indwelling. By this fruit-bearing life the Father is glorified. The proof is in the fruit pudding.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34).
Human nature is to love those who are like us; those with whom we agree and share common opinions. The real challenge is to love the unloved; those who are difficult. Though unnatural, disciples of Jesus draw upon the supernatural resource of God’s Spirit to make it a reality.
“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31).
Being a disciple is much like a marriage. Each begins with an initial commitment and is characterized by a continuing faithfulness and growth in intimacy. The faithfulness of Jesus’ disciples is seen in their continuing in His word. That is, the purpose of continued Bible study is to become so familiar with the teachings of Jesus that we become more like Him. Every reading brings richer understanding.