Archive for April, 2012
“But if we hope for what we do not see, with patience we wait eagerly for it” (Romans 8:25).
Life is filled with things that test our patience. The apostle Paul had to wait patiently while sitting in a prison. Moses had to wait while wandering forty years in the wilderness. Jesus himself waited thirty years before beginning his ministry. Yet, what is discovered through patient waiting is that the end result is far greater than that for which we so impatiently longed.
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before” (Hebrews 12:1).
Be encouraged. You are not making new footprints when it comes to the life of faith. Any battle that confronts you, others have been there. The temptation you struggle to overcome has already been a victory for someone else. The referenced witnesses are not spectators watching their successors, but everyday saints who were victorious and give witness to faith’s possibilities.
“And one called out to another and said, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory’” (Isaiah 6:3).
The members of the heavenly host are portrayed as regularly worshipping and praising God. Their worship, and the worship to which we should aspire, is dominated by a sense of God’s presence and His being the sole object of worship. It is only when He dominates your heart, soul, mind, and spirit that worship is truly accomplished. Anything else is idolatry.
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
Many think the burden of the preacher/teacher is to prove the relevance of God’s word. The truth is, whether you consider the Word relevant is irrelevant. Of greater import is that our seemingly irrelevant lives are relevant to God. As sermons are heard, lessons absorbed, and a disciplined reading plan is pursued the word of God works its way into the deepest, innermost parts of our being. It is in these places that the word actively shapes and forges us into the people we are in the process of becoming.
“and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed” (Revelation 21:4).
In his vision of the new heaven and earth, John, describes what is to come–a place where we are no longer to suffer, grieve, or experience the physical, emotional, and mental challenges that this present life imposes upon us. Until that day comes, however, we endure these things as a testimony of our faith.
“Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision” (Philippians 3:2).
Paul’s emotions are running high. He utilizes three vivid and even abusive terms to describe his opponents and the enemies of the Gospel; Judaizers who may look and sound religious but are peddlers of a false gospel. His warning is to “beware” of any doctrine that teaches or requires anything beyond faith in Christ as the means of salvation.
“The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops” (2 Timothy 2:6).
Perhaps no vocation portrays the life of faith as vividly as does farming. A farmer sows a seed with the faith that God will provide the necessary amount of both sunshine and rain. A farmer works hard; not just praying for a harvest but working for it, recognizing the symbiotic relationship between prayer and perspiring. A farmer waits patiently as maturity is being accomplished.
“Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Timothy 2:5).
In athletics a failure to know the rules of one’s sport can have disastrous results. It can mean the difference between victory and defeat; penalties and fines; disqualifications and suspensions. For followers of Jesus, the Bible is our training manual. While not so much a book of rules and regulations, it is the means by which we come to understand the nature and character of our Lord and, thus, how we shall then live. Let the training begin.
“Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:3-4).
The Apostle Paul utilized often militaristic language to describe the Christian life–soldier, army, shield, sword, helmet, breastplate, warfare, being on the alert, and fighting the good fight. As in the wearing of a uniform, to be a follower of Christ means to embrace the duties, responsibilities, mission, and obligations of the name it represents. At every rank and file we must stand at attention until our Supreme Commander-in-Chief says “at ease.”