Archive for August, 2012
“No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
If you’re looking for Satan in a red suit, with horns, a tail, and a pitchfork in hand, you’re going to be fooled. Instead of horrifying, he appears as something appealing. The tempter is subtle and rarely overt. Such is the nature of temptation. If we look only for a full frontal assault, we miss the flank attack that will surely come.
“Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7).
What is the greatest hindrance to the nurturing of faith? Is it not BUSYNESS; the junk-overload that seeks to choke meaning out of each day. The solution is a stripped down version of ourselves. The “discipline” mentioned in today’s text is a word that literally means “naked.” The greek “gumnos” gave birth to our word “gymnasium”. It is a place of discipline, exercise, training. Discipline is the key to stripping away the things that weigh us down.
“Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Life becomes tiresome is when the routines of each day are performed with no desired end; when work is viewed as a necessary evil; when the obligations of marriage and family are a grind. Many think rest is to be realized in a break from the monotony–a vacation, men’s, or ladies night out. The rest Jesus offers, however, comes not in the absence of work, but work that is done with a sense of mission and purpose–to glorify him. To understand his vocational call is to see the “routines” of everyday life as the very platforms God has given us to glorify him.
“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4).
Among the many paradoxes of our faith is that the greatest life lessons are learned in the worst of experiences. Character isn’t nurtured while sitting in the harbor or sailing only calm seas. Character is forged in the storms of life. We must determine whether our troubling days will be obstacles or opportunities.
“But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her'” (John 8:7).
Into the middle of a crowded court she was deposited by the defenders of the Law of Moses. An adulterer; caught in the very act. The trap has now been set. What will Jesus do? As they persisted, he responded with the most profound insight and in so doing provided a timeless caveat for anyone tempted to judge the particular sin of another. Do not miss the fact that as the only sinless one present, he chose not to throw stones but to extend grace.
“I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12).
What an enlightening reminder to the church that Jesus wasn’t some kind of religious fuddy-duddy or heavenly kill-joy. For children and the multitudes to have been drawn to him, at the very least, means that there was something attractive and winsome about his personality. Long faces of perpetual gloom and doom are a poor representation of Good News. Have a faith that shines.
“So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
We have only a limited amount of time. Soon this most precious commodity will run out. Wisdom would dictate that we live every moment to its fullest, live in abiding fellowship with the One who is the Giver and Taker of life, and commit yourself to a work and ministry that will outlive you. Start now.
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more” (Luke 12:48).
With the growing popularity of the Powerball lottery and those who foolishly participate, you often hear individuals speculating on what they would do if they were to win tens of millions of dollars. Their intentions are often noble–charitable offerings to the church, universities, shelters, soup kitchens, etc. God’s guiding principle of stewardship, however, isn’t based upon what you might do with what you don’t have, but what you are doing with what you do have. It is the expectation that we are to manage our resources and not be managed by them.
“But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Have you ever considered why “love” is counted as the greatest gift and virtue? It is a reflection of the other two. Where faith and hope abides there also will be love. While some would fall in love with religious rules, we should seek to offer grace that errs on the side of love. Rules are quick to condemn; love anxiously seeks to redeem. It is the greatest virtue found among gracious people.
“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).
While the scribes were the supposed experts of scriptural interpretation, Jesus embodied them and translated them to flesh and blood. Thus, the people were amazed. It is nonetheless true today. People are still amazed when they cross the path of someone who daily and devotedly lives their faith, as opposed to those who only speak of it in voluminous and amplified tones in the public square. Our loving actions will amaze them long before our knowledgeable words.