Archive for January, 2012
“When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29).
When it comes to the understanding and practice of our faith, we are not left to wander aimlessly in fog of confusion. As Greenwich Mean Time is the international standard for time; as the North Star is the indisputable reference point for sailing vessels in the northern hemisphere, so are the teachings of Jesus as documented in Scripture. Jesus taught not as one who knew the Book, but as the One who wrote the Book.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
In reading the Gospels one discovers that Jesus reached out to those who were cast aside; he lifted up those who were put down; he gave respectability to the despised; he offered forgiveness to those plagued by guilt; he brought wholeness to broken lives. While favoritism dominates the systems of this world, Christ has leveled the playing field for those who are the body of Christ.
“Then Job answered the Lord and said, ‘Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand on my mouth’” (Job 40: 3-4).
When life tempts us to ask, “Why me?” perhaps we should first consider the question, “Why not me?” What ultimately emerged at the heart of Job’s faith was an acceptance of unexplainable suffering. As sharps and flats are to music, so suffering is to the tuning of our lives. The challenge isn’t to single out individual notes for debate but, rather, to catch the melody of the yet completed composition.
“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).
What this verse doesn’t say is, perhaps, more important than what it does say. It doesn’t say that God causes all things. The sufferings of life cannot be casually explained away as the will of God. Tragedy and hardship are but the result of a broken world and fallen creation. Nor does this verse decree that all things are good. Life teaches us otherwise. What is confirmed and what we know by faith is that in the provision of our Father, he is able to fashion and weave all of life’s experiences into something constructive in the accomplishment of his purposes.
“Oh that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come to His seat (Job 23:3)!
In the dark, lonesome valleys of life, we find ourselves echoing these words of Job. We long for the presence of God and reminders that he cares; that he is involved. Pain and suffering can blind us to the reality of the mysterious nature of our omnipresent Creator and how his purposes are being accomplished. It is in these periods that we must cling to the promise of Jesus, “Lo, I am with you always,…I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Let temptation serve as a reminder that you have a choice as to the kind of person your going to be. To be tempted to sin against God means you have the capacity to do and be more than you ever imagined. The fact that we daily face temptation means that something or someone is working to prevent us from realizing our full potential Turn your temptations into attempts to build a life according to the plans God has for you.
“Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote–Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see’” (John 1: 45-46).
Nathanael did go and see. Unlike the one who refuses to believe, the skeptic is willing to investigate. While Jesus has harsh words for those who refuse to believe, the honesty and sincerity of a skeptic, like Nathanael, evokes a positive response from our Lord. Are you a skeptic? Will you consider the evidence? Come and see.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
There is no better analogy than a birth for what happens when we enter into a relationship with Christ at conversion. Conversion marks the start of a new life that never before existed. Also, just as we did not birth ourselves physically, neither can we birth ourselves spiritually–it is a work of God. Finally, both birth and the new birth of conversion brings us into a family. It is a celebration of life.
“For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them” (2 Peter 2:21).
With knowledge comes responsibility. To be entrusted with Divine Truth, the knowledge of the resurrected and exalted Savior, the Pearl of great price is significant. It has been handed down from generation to generation and now rests with us. We must not act ignorantly with the knowledge we have been given.
“Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has, ore shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away” (Matthew 25:28-29).
Countless opportunities present themselves each day to be the presence of Christ. Yet each opportunity is unique and will never be again. We often excuse our inaction by rationalizing that we will wait for another time; a more appropriate time, only to discover that this was the only time we had. Our Father isn’t interested in what we might do if given certain opportunities, but what we do with the specific opportunities that cross our path each day. We worry much about doing the right thing only to discover that doing nothing is the greater detriment.