Archive for February, 2012
“You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men” (2 Corinthians 3:2)
The kind of letter Paul is describing is a letter of reference or recommendation. It’s a reminder that every believer is to be a letter of recommendation for Christ. Long before someone reads a Bible in the pursuit of Truth, they will read you and me. Like it or not people are watching and making judgments regarding the genuineness of the faith we profess.
“When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6).
Let’s face it…sin is attractive. Otherwise it wouldn’t be tempting. Sin always portrays itself as something delightful, desirable, alluring, and attractive. The key to victory is seeing beyond the pleasurable possibilities of the moment to the long term; beyond the temporal to the eternal; remembering that what we are after is the hereafter.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7).
The irony of grace is that it cannot be claimed for oneself and then withheld from others. That we are actual recipients of God’s mercy is seen in how we offer it to others. One cannot pass through heaven’s narrow gate when bulging with bitterness.
“Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?‘ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21).
Revenge or recovery? Justice or mercy? Condemn or pardon? When others have hurt us, wronged us, offended us, lied about us, or mistreated us the natural tendency is to become bitter, resentful, and vengeful. Forgiveness is never easy. It’s hard, unnatural; it is supranatural. The attitude of unforgivenss, however, becomes the cancer of our soul. Of all the destructive emotions there is none equal to hate. For every minute you hate, you lose sixty seconds of happiness. Whoever it is; whatever it is forgive, move on, and start living again.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
Personalities within both the faith and scientific communities continue in futile conversations regarding the origins of the universe. Arguments of how and when can be proven by neither; requiring both to embrace their positions by faith. The most important teaching of Genesis 1:1 is that God is the agent acting in creation. For the author, this was the most significant factor; not how and when. To assume more than the biblical text offers is intellectually dishonest and without theological merit.
“Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah’” (Matthew 17:4).
Mountaintop experiences, like the transfiguration event was for the disciples, are important and necessary. They represent times of profound inspiration and influence in our relationship with the Lord. We must never allow them, however, to become an end, in and of themselves. They are but a means to a end. The Christian life must always maintain a proper balance between worship and work; inspiration and perspiration. Mountaintops are meaningful only as they inspire for the work to be found in the valley below.
“But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Colossians 3: 8, 12).
It doesn’t take long in the Christian life for the Holy Spirit to bring to one’s conscience an awareness of certain behaviors and attitudes incompatible with a commitment to Christ. These are things that hinder our growth in Christ and fellowship with the Father. To put these things away is the negative side of the Christian experience. This negative, however, gives birth to a greater positive–the “putting on” of those qualities and attributes that reflect the Spirit of Christ, who dwells in us. It is a literal out with the old and in with the new.
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17).
I believe every individual arrives, eventually, to a point of introspection where they ask the question of how to best utilize the life they have been given. While medical science seeks to extend the human life span, it is through the Great Physician that we discover the principals for a meaningful life. A well-managed life is one that does all things to the glory of the Father. It drives our words; our actions; our decisions.
“One of the two who heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He found first his own brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah'” (John 1: 40-41).
Being a witness of the Christian faith is a matter of intersecting with those God has brought, and is bringing, into our life each day. We each one find ourselves in a concentric circle surrounded by a representation of varying relationships–immediate family, relatives, friends, neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances. Do they know you have found the Messiah?
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22: 31-32).
You will recover and bounce back from your failures. Our Lord knew this of Peter and he knows it of you. As devastating as Peter’s denial of our Lord was, ultimately, it would make him sympathetic, understanding, less self-righteous, and all the more wise in dealing with his Christian brothers. It’s never a question of will you fail, but how you respond when you do. God’s not looking for flawless heroes but forgiven servants who pick up and continue on in the forward journey of faith.