Archive for January, 2013
“Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with joyful shouting; then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them’” (Psalms 126:2).
Why would we even question whether or not God has a sense of humor? Oh, don’t be misled by the sour, fatalistic expressions of the religious types that occupy so much space in so many of the churches. To trust his Kingdom to people such as us shows great humor and only affirms that his work is just that–his. To be enlivened by his Spirit is to draw others into the wonder of his creation. You can’t help but to laugh out loud.
“He is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15).
With the incarnation of Christ, God became more real to the world. Partial glimpses were seen in a variety of offerings–creation, Israel, the voice of the prophets–but it was in Christ the world was offered the full revelation of God. Humanity desperately needs Jesus to be real in their lives. He becomes visible when we shine as his light and exude the fruit of his Spirit.
“The wind blow where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
The life of faith can be an unsettling journey. The man to whom Jesus spoke these words found them to be disruptive to his domesticated existence; threatening to his well-ordered religious life. As much as we seek to tame our lives and settle down in our self-constructed security, the wind of the Spirit continually blows across the heart of our soul; moving us continually in directions we never imagined.
“In the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue. Let all things be done for edification” (1 Corinthians 14:19, 26)
Corporate worship isn’t a private altar or a playground for individual expression. It is a symphony of unified expression; a gathering of individuals making a collective offering of themselves to God; that simultaneously exalts God and edifies (builds up) his church. Less is more when our worship offerings are for a greater common good. More is less when it is done for self-benefit.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go. Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me” (John 21:18-19)!
As those who follow Jesus, we are destined to die a martyr’s death. It is the glorious end of any faithful disciple’s life–dying for your faith. Even our death brings glory to God. It is none other than the One who, himself, came out the other side of the cross that speaks not only of how we live but also how we die. Our promised end is a death-defeating resurrection.
“An argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest” (Luke 9:46).
Though this question must have been important to them at the time (for this is a conversation among young men), we come to see in later writings of the disciples that their perspective changed with experience and maturity. After all, when the truly greatest One among you chooses to lay down his life in sacrifice, conversations about any position or power we might hold seem trivial and boorish. Our lives are to be but arguments for Him.
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there” (Psalm 139:7-8).
A holy people; a royal priesthood; the chosen ones; the elect; the body of Christ. The descriptive terms alone are intimidating. Greater still are the accompanying responsibilities. They are prevailing and pervasive. For those on the outside it may seem burdensome. We on the inside, however, recognize this burden to “be as we are described” an assurance of the abiding presence of God’s Spirit dwelling within.
“Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples ventured to question Him, ‘Who are you?’ knowing that it was the Lord’” (John 21:7, 12).
After such a confident declaration of recognition, why would these disciples have even entertained a question of doubt—“Who are you?” I find it encouraging that faith and doubt are honestly presented and allowed to stand side by side, and not just here but throughout the Gospels. Until the Lord comes, wondering will always be part of our worship.
“Consider your ways! You have sown much; but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes” (Haggai 1:5-6).
Busyness is the greatest enemy of Kingdom work; pursuits and accomplishments that are meaningless and void of purpose. Busyness hides the boredom that people have with their lives. Let all that we do be a glorification of Him and the work He is accomplishing in our lives.
“On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable” (1 Corinthians 12:22-23).
While the world looks up to its role-models, the church should look beneath the veneer of success to those around us who perform the most menial of tasks; whose absence would be the most glaring were their duties not performed. It is these who exemplify the spirit of service that is to characterize our custodial care of the grace entrusted to us.