Archive for February, 2013
“Jesus said to her, ‘Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father…’” (John 20:17).
Like Mary, many consider the life of faith to be a sentimental recovery of what once was. However, if Abraham is held before us as the father of faith, then the life we should desire is best understood as an adventure that leads to a place we do not know and forever transforms us along the way. Ours is not an objective to be recovered but pursued. We reach forward to what lies ahead.
“Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward” (2 John 1:8).
To speak of the journey of faith implies a forward movement toward a final destination. Sadly, there are always some in the Lord’s church who think they have arrived when, really, all they are doing is blocking the road. For the followers of Jesus, however, there is no staying put. We are either going forward and gaining ground or staying put and losing ground.
“Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’ But He was speaking of the temple of His body” (John 2:19-21).
Most confine God to being one they can explain and understand; that works within the realm of their experience; which is really no god at all. A growing faith, however, should expand our imagining of God to places far beyond what we see, know, or even expect. As Paul wrote, “For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees” (Romans 8:24).
“So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken” (John 2:22).
The reading, teaching, and preaching of God’s word is intended to transcend the moment; offering a cumulative and, sometimes, delayed effect. The portion of scripture that might, today, seem dry and irrelevant will someday, unexpectedly, give birth to comforting illumination, meaningful insight, and renewed commitment. Stay in the Word. More importantly, let it stay in you. It is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete” (James 1:2-4).
We speak of our commitment to the arduous task of discipleship and the passionate pursuit of Christlikeness then wilt, complain, or flee from any unpleasant experience set before us; failing to realize that these are the very things that God uses to forge the character of His people and His church. He gives us both the courage and the capacity to stare down every painful episode and, having persevered, better equipped to face forthcoming hardships and to walk with others through theirs.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).
God has set a great hunger within us, yet we settle for so little. We pursue the multifaceted and even good offerings of this life—food, drink, travel, relationships—only to discover with each experience that we are hungering for more than these things can provide. To desire more than this world sets before us is the starting place for discovering the satisfaction to be realized in the Bread of Life and Living Water of Jesus Christ. Might each pang of hunger serve as a reminder to crave for more.
“He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).
Instead of engaging in substantive dialogue regarding the historical Christian understanding of God, atheist’s embrace their own unsubstantiated assumptions. Their argument, seemingly, is against a deity that exists as some item on a desktop; that because we are unable to point it out, remove and examine it then it must not exist. A more reasonable understanding is that being the Creator of all things excludes God from this inventory of things. He is the Source and Ground by which all things are held together.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
The call of Christ brings us into a fellowship of other believers but it also makes us part of a missional task for the purpose of bringing others to Him. When you fully understand and embrace these roles it ensures that you will never get your life in order. The people “business” is extraordinarily messy and, yet, gloriously fulfilling. If your life is well-ordered it’s time for some introspection. It may indicate a life of selfish preoccupation. The strange irony is that fulfillment is to be found in bearing the burdens of others.
“And the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, and imposed hard labor on us. Then we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction and our toil and our oppression; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 26:6-8).
Funny how our perspective changes toward the hardships of life once we are standing on the threshold of some great experience. Yes, God delivered the pleading Hebrews but only after 400 years of anguished crying; and this followed by 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. It says something about time. For the great I AM, I suspicion that there is no awareness of time. I AM was never I WAS or I WILL BE. For Him there is no past, present, or future. He just is. So we plead patiently, knowing that our time is not His.
“No prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20-21).
That the biblical writers were moved by the Holy Spirit means they were inspired to action. One of the more compelling arguments for the veracity of the sacred text is the resulting nuances of each Gospel account, and every epistle, as each inspired author wrote out of the varied contextual milieu of their own lives. While unbelievers would point to these differing perspectives on the teachings of Jesus as an argument against the credibility of Scripture, would not a greater question of credibility be raised if each one were a verbatim read? Imagine the conspiratorial effort it would take to accomplish such a task.