Archive for June, 2012
“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, and trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the Lord! Now the Egyptians are men and not God, and their horses are flesh and not spirit;…” (Isaiah 31:1,3)
Solutions for a broken humanity are realized not by the super powers of the world that are destined to fall, but a suffering Savior who now reigns as Lord of lords and King of kings. While social action and political processes can offer temporary relief for the symptoms of a crippled world, Christ alone can transform the human heart and, thus, the human condition.
“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).
With the daily bombardment of negativity, doom, and pessimism, we are a discouraged world looking for an encouraging word. It’s out of such surroundings that we, the church, the presence of Christ, are given the opportunity to lift up and be the voice of refreshment. We must not wait until next time; a better time; maybe tomorrow, but today. Searching for opportunities to encourage keeps us attuned to the positives that God is accomplishing today.
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
I take cardio work very seriously. Because the past two generations of Dagnel men have not lived past the age of 60, I am diligent to see that cardio work is accomplished each day. It is a non-negotiable activity in my daily regimen. As committed as I am to the condition of the heart that gives life to my body, greater still is my concern for the heart of my soul and spirit. It is with the same diligence that I seek to guard and condition it, for it is here that the issues of life are determined. The attitudes that are nurtured in the heart ultimately become the actions of my life.
“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12).
The very verb tense utilized by the Apostle Paul, when writing of our salvation, indicates that the true nature of the Christian faith isn’t what we have become but what we are becoming. While the work of God in Christ Jesus is a matter of the heart–an inward transformation–it is played out in our daily lives. Working out your salvation is the practical and visible side of a greater inward reality.
“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do; forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,…” (Philippians 3:13).
By observation it seems many reach a stage in life where they rest on their laurels; reflecting on past accomplishments. Paul’s encouragement is to keep going, don’t quit, stay plugged-in; that laurels are something to be resisted. If we are not careful, all the things we used to do can become an excuse for doing nothing today.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
To the question of “how,” some would point to scientific hypotheses. For the church, we would point to God as the agent acting in creation. Both sides of this conversation have their theories and evidence. Neither side, however, can prove their argument. Ironically, both sides of the conversation are exercising faith. Remember, though, nothing just happens.
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).
He prayed for a variety of things–children, disciples: that his Father would send a Helper; Peter’s faith; that the cup might pass from his hand. Interestingly, the One who came to seek and save never prayed specifically for the lost. While he saw their state and had compassion on them, he urges us to join him in praying to the Lord of the Harvest that he would send laborers into this field that is ripe with opportunity. We pray this prayer not because God is unwilling to send workers, but workers are unwilling to go. Are you?
“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).
The righteousness of the religious professionals that must be surpassed is more definitively described as self-righteousness–a sense of satisfaction and entitlement that comes with religious performance. Interestingly, the righteousness of God, known and realized through the person of Jesus Christ, is discovered only in humility, desperation, and brokenness. It has nothing to offer to God and depends solely upon His offering to us. It’s discovered not in rules but in a relationship.
“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
Ever been maligned because of your beliefs? Misunderstood because of your convictions? Allegiances questioned because your fervor for an eternal Kingdom is greater than your zeal for man-made kingdoms? No? Perhaps you should examine your desires.
“Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).
Duplicity–”Deception by pretending to entertain one set of intentions while acting under the influence of another.” Whether I am there to see it or not, Paul says, there is a certain way your lives should be conducted. The life of faith isn’t lived for a particular target audience–church friends, the congregation, the Sunday School class. It is a life that strives for consistency, to the degree that there is no difference between one’s private and public life.