Archive for July, 2012
“You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me’” (Matthew 15:7-8).
For those who insist on making mention of “all” the hypocrites in the church, I always respond, “And we have room for one more.” The truth of the matter is that there is a bit of hypocrisy in all of us. None of us are yet what we desire to be nor what we are going to be. The best way to deal with “all” the hypocrites is examining our own hearts and dealing with the hypocrisy within us–being honest with God and ourselves.
“On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary” (1 Corinthians 12:22).
While we are tempted to ascribe greater esteem to those public gifts utilized in leading corporate worship, it is the “behind-the-scene” gifts that prove to be indispensable. In fact, the strength of Paul’s statement is that they are “more necessary.” The merit of our individual grace gifts are not to be debated, but utilized as opportunities arise. The collective effort of our “lesser” gifts will accomplish more than the one utilizing his “greater” gift.
“Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions” (Psalms 51:1).
Sin has such a devastating impact–the loss of joy; the guilt, anguish, and shame; the sense of failure. While some choose to wallow in the misery, thinking there is no escape, it is not necessary to remain a slave to sin. We are hiding nothing from God. He knows what he’s dealing with. He longs to forgive, and he wants only for us to ask.
“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
Do you know your strengths and weaknesses? Most are concerned with only their weak, vulnerable areas. These are the facets of life that we pray about and commit to the Lord for strength. Satan’s most likely point of attack, however, will not be those areas of weakness committed to the Lord’s provision but, rather, those areas where we count ourselves strong. If there is any part of your life that you are leaving to your own power, take heed.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18).
Our hope looks to the future and all that God is preparing. The pessimism of secular thought sees the future as nothing but a cyclical pattern of history repeating itself and things growing worse. As a people of hope, our view of time and history is linear; it moves in a straight line from God acting as the agent in creation to the culmination of the ages and the fulfillment of God’s purposes. While some see a hopeless end, we rejoice in our endless hope.
“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalms 121:1-2).
As life beats us down it is natural for the eyes, head, and shoulders to drop; to view life only in terms of what is front of us. Faith, however, challenges us to lift up our eyes; to view things from another perspective, a higher perspective; to see outward and upward to a horizon of possiblities.
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired” (Isaiah 40:28)?
Our weariness is now. Our fatigue is this moment. Our circumstances are upon us. In response, we cry out to God for immediate action and relief. Yet, need we be reminded that the purposes and strategies of God point to the ages and not to the moment? For those who know, they are sustained by His strength and patience.
“I have become a marvel to many, for You are my strong refuge. My mouth is filled with Your praise and with Your glory all day long” (Psalms 71:7-8).
Disappointed by the betrayal of friends? Overtaken by negative emotions that leave you feeling like a castaway; forsaken? Ever sensed that adversaries are overtaking you? Have troubles and distresses left you in the depths of the earth? Such was the circumstances of the Psalmist and, yet, those around him marveled at his testimony to the faithfulness of God. Today, you are or will be facing some adversity. For those around you, how you respond is a witness and testimony of your faith and confidence in the provision of God. Let them marvel.
“And some men were carrying on a bed a man who was paralyzed; and they were trying to bring him in and to set him down in front of Him. But not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus” (Luke 5:18-19).
Institutional religion requires everyone to come through the front door in ways that bring no disruption. It prefers the uniform, the standardized cookie-cutter approach that assumes everyone is of the same background and experience. It stands in stark contrast to the message and mission of Jesus. Ours is to be a missional faith; willing to improvise, take creative measures, and unconventional approaches that others might have the opportunity to meet the Savior. Find and become a part of a church that is intentional in the performance of its missional task and is willing to raise the roof that others might see Jesus.
“For lack of wood the fire goes out” (Proverbs 26:20).
If you neglect a campfire it will eventually die out. If schoolwork is neglected, grades will suffer. If a constant emotional investment is not made into a marriage it will eventually lose all of its life and vitality. It is a timeless principle with broad application–some things demand our constant time and attention–and it is nonetheless true in our relationship with Christ. Daily attention to word, walk, and worship are key to stoking the fires of faith.