Archive for May, 2013

NO LAUGHING MATTER

“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye” (Matthew 6:41)?

The personality of Jesus is revealed in this laughably hyperbolic question. He utilizes humor to highlight two serious issues–the tendency of judging others while neglecting the necessity of self-criticism. To neglect the obvious flaws in one’s own life while focusing on the minutia of someone else is to make oneself a laughingstock.

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BEARING THE UNBEARABLE

“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:12-13).

Context, circumstances, experience, and one’s station in life are all factors to better understanding the truth of God’s word and the guiding of the Spirit. Just as teachers do not tell all they know in one lesson, or as pastors do not seek to offer the full counsel of God in one sermon, or as a parent doesn’t teach all a child needs to understand in one lecture, neither does the Spirit seek to offer all truth in one baptismal event. Life has a cumulative effect and as these events are experienced the Spirit is able to guide us to a place of providential understanding.

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GRADUATING TO FAITH

“Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (Galatians 3:24-25).

In an academic environment testing is utilized to measure one’s proficiency in a particular field. Sometimes it is necessary to employ a tutor to help achieve the desired objective. In the realm of the eternal the Law plays the role of tutor, not to achieve proficiency in matters of religious performance, but to lead us to faith that the sufficiency of Christ is made known. In solving the question of salvation, don’t be fooled by the trick equation of faith + something else. The correct answer is always faith + nothing else.

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THE LOWDOWN ON PRIDE

“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allowed to each a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3).

To think to highly of oneself is a posture of pride that has been assumed on the basis of some criteria that the possessor fails to recognize as being nothing more than self-promotion. It is the exchange of God’s glory for self-elevation and importance. While the holder is completely unaware, pride is immediately recognized by others because of the pain it causes, the division it creates, and the community it seeks to destroy. Interestingly, both the problem and solution to pride is to be found in how one thinks.

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DISCIPLES OR BELIEVERS?

“But there are some of you who do not believe. ‘As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and and were not walking with Him anymore’” (John 6:64, 66).

If the literal understanding of a disciple is to be a learner or student, then the teachings of Jesus indicate that one can be his disciple and, yet, not be a believer; that one can know the Bible and not know the One to whom it points. All true believers are disciples but not all disciples are believers. The truest indicator is to be seen in those who continue to walk with Him.

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THIRSTING FOR MORE

“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for the living God” (Psalm 42:1-2).

While scripture utilizes hunger and thirst as frequent metaphors to describe our longing for God, this desire for the transcendent is an affirmation of and argument for God’s existence and that he can be known. The argument being that just as thirst proves that the drinking of water is natural, the fact that we desire something the natural world cannot offer suggests the existence of a supernatural one. It is this for which we are created and the process of discovery and experience begins with a thirsting desire.

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UNNECESSARY DISTRACTIONS

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).

Things…so many things…things that demand our time and attention…or so we imagine. I think back to things, seemingly important things, that I poured myself into only to find out with age, maturity, and the passage of time that they really didn’t matter at all. They just faded away into obscurity. Regardless of the circumstances that, at the moment, seem so necessary, there’s only one thing that matters–a commitment to the Lordship of Christ. Once this is in place, we discover the wisdom to know the difference between the necessary and unnecessary.

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PROPERLY ALIGNED

“Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” (Galatians 2:16).

With any word processing application the action of aligning the text with the right and left margin is known as justification. Theologically, justification is the action of God to bring our broken lives back into alignment with him. We are justified not by the works of the law, or any amount of religious performance, but through faith in Jesus Christ. He makes us a document worth saving.

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ONE OPINION MATTERS

“I do not receive glory from men. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” (John 5:41, 44)

Nothing more quickly closes the door to the offerings of Christ than posturing one’s life to receive glory from man. A significant part of the freedom afforded us in Christ is the release from such selfish preoccupation and the desire to be esteemed by others. There is no greater sense of release to be realized than choosing to live one’s life for the final judgment of One over the opinions of the fickle masses.

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LAMENTS OF PRAISE

“But as for me, I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more” (Psalm 71:14).

The laments of the psalmist may appear as whining and complaining, but they cry out from a heart of faith and confidence that has come upon a time of confusion and distress; it is a longing for God to fulfill his promises.  A lamenting faith reflects a relationship with the Lord that is honest and transparent; offering no religious platitudes.  Yet, through every trial and circumstance, hope for the future and praise of the Father are the remaining constants.

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