Archive for May, 2013
“Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28).
In a shaky world it is good to know that we are the subjects of an unshakeable Kingdom. When your world is teetering the tendency is to become filled with self-preoccupation. In contrast, those whose citizenship is rooted in a Kingdom, whose builder and maker is God, are better suited to embrace a mindset of gratitude–a disposition that looks outward; upward; Godward. Thus, it is from this stage that we are able to offer worship and service that is acceptable to the Father. That we are able to do so with reverence and awe is the sure indicator that our focus is Him and not us.
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:1,7).
When it comes to the person and working of the Holy Spirit many believers have settled for a subjective, willy-nilly understanding; that their intuitive feelings bring legitimacy to anything they choose to attribute to the working of the Spirit. Scripture, however, makes it clear that the Holy Spirit works objectively for a common cause–the exaltation of Christ and the edification of his church. Any gifting of the Spirit that might be ours must be tested against these two criteria.
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37).
Could the metaphor for discovering the salvation that God offers be made any more simple? When thirsty, we are interested in nothing but liquid satisfaction. Your entire focus is on finding something to drink–not food; not pleasure; not adventure; but drink alone. In the same way, Jesus reminds that our thirst for the eternal; the transcendent; a sense of purpose is quenched only when we come to Him and freely drink–no strings attached. Beware of other religious offerings that seek to make God’s free gift into a rewarded work.
“I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent Me” (John 7:29).
The life and teachings of Jesus offer an example of the level of intimacy that can be known and realized with our Heavenly Father. While most people speak of God as an object about which they think, Jesus speaks of God the Father as a subject about whom he is. In other words, to live in relationship with the Heavenly Father is to know him not as one we think about, but as the One we are about.
“When Jesus came into Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she got up and waited on Him” (Matthew 8:14-15).
The appropriate response for those who have benefitted from the Lord’s healing touch of salvation is a life of service to Him. The beneficiaries of grace must also be the benefactors. His redemptive offerings brings forth the offering of our lives.
“Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17).
Between our intellectual abilities, ambition, and resources it seems there is no subject matter we humans cannot eventually come to understand, if not master. This natural realm, however, described as flesh and blood, cannot make known the revelation of God nor does it provide the means by which the life of faith and victorious living is discharged. These are supernatural occurrences, accomplished by the bidding of God’s Spirit. It is only by the supernatural action of taking up our cross that we counter the natural pursuit of gratifying and/or justifying our self-interest.
“Truly, I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you” (Matthew 21:31).
In a parable of two sons–one giving the appearance of obedience while being disobedient, and the other disobedience while responding obediently–Jesus teaches a lesson of vital importance regarding the nature of salvation. The kingdom of God is realized not by those offering religious platitudes and “lip service” to the faith, but is exclusively reserved for those who come through the forgiveness of sins. The root of our fascination with religion, not surprisingly, is that it says something about us. Forgiveness, on the other hand, says everything about Him.
“With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
When is a promise not a promise? When it’s taken out of context and made to mean something for which it was never intended. For instance, how often do we hear the second clause of today’s passage quoted as a promise of God to bail us out of any circumstance, even those created by our own decisions and choices. This to the neglect of the first clause and, even more carelessly, to the total disregard of the larger context of the narrative in which it is found. While most seem satisfied to apply the promise of the verse to the overcoming of some moment of adversity, it is a greater promise than we could ever imagine–it is for our salvation. For man this is impossible, but not for God.
“For not even His brothers were believing in Him. So Jesus said to them, ‘My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune’” (John 7:5-6).
Is your life driven by a sense of divine appointment? Every day, every moment, every encounter being seen as a providentially ordained occasion? This was how Jesus viewed life, but not his brothers. Life becomes purposeful when the time allotted us is missionally embraced and lived with the understanding that it is His time and we are His presence in our world of daily interaction.
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).
Have you considered how the communion table offers a unique perspective on time? Each occasion is but a perfect storm of past and future colliding in the present moment; the past reaching forward to us and the future coming back to us. It is a timely reminder of the Kingdom of God here and now; the convergence of past and future bringing forth meaning to the present.