Archive for July, 2013
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen (Jude 24-25).
If you feel afraid, he is your courage. If worried, he will give you faith. If tired, he gives rest. If you lack purpose, he has a plan for your life. If overwhelmed by defeat, he promises victory. If weak and tired, he is your strength. Though so many things seek to trip us up, our Lord has given us a surefooted place. Even while living on the slippery slope of life, we stand on the certainty of God’s glory.
“But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment” (1 Timothy 6:6).
This verse is lifted from a passage that describes the existing tension between a contentment with what one has and a wanting and longing for what one doesn’t (vs. 6-10). To realize that what one has is the result of what God has given is to be liberated from the envy of what others have and the vain pursuit of this world’s material possessions. It is this freedom that enables one to focus with singleminded devotion on the greater rewards of the Kingdom.
“Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3).
Mary’s action toward our Lord has become her biography and is the model of an offering that smells right. To be living sacrifices for the Lord means our offerings to him emerge from the things we value and not our leftovers. What you cannot give away owns you.
“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
Long before emerging revelations of government surveillance, U.S. intelligence operations in the post-9/11 world, and information gathering programs of federal agencies such as the National Security Agency there was the all-seeing eye of God. Instead of fretting over the invasiveness of Big Brother, all the more we should be mindful of and thankful for the watchfulness of our Heavenly Father.
“Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God” (Hebrews 6:1).
The foundational truths of our faith are of absolute necessity; offering us a sense of rootedness. That the author of Hebrews states that we must leave behind these basic tenets doesn’t mean they are to be abandoned or forsaken. A skyscraper has a foundation but it must leave the foundation to become a superstructure. A tree must have roots but it must leave its roots to become a great shade tree. As believers we can’t be just foundations and roots. We must leave out from them if we are to grow up into the greater thing that the foundation has been designed to support.
“Then Joseph said to his brothers…‘Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life’” (Genesis 45:4, 5).
Joseph was in a position to demand justice and mete out retribution against those who had sold him into slavery and, yet, he chose to forgive and prosper his brothers. In a culture where justice was maintained by a moral code of an “eye for an eye”, Joseph initiated an unprecedented ethic–turning the other cheek. Even before Jesus would introduce it as a new standard, “You have heard it said…but I say to you,” Joseph was role-modeling the power of forgiveness for the preservation of life.
“First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men. Therefore I want the men in every place to pray” (1 Timothy 2:1, 8).
Paul’s urging is a sweeping summary statement of a prayer life that is pleasing to God–all kinds of prayers, for all kinds of people, in all kinds of places. “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior” (v.3). When the “amen” is said, His is the only opinion that matters.
“I have other sheep, which are not of this fold. I must bring them also” (John 10:16).
These words of Jesus offer the needed reminder that God’s salvation is expansive and not exclusive. We must be leery of humanly construed teachings of a salvation that is for some but not others. The God who condemns the sin of partiality in James 2 would not, himself, practice such. Let whosoever will come.
“Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God” (3 John 1:11).
To imitate is to reproduce someone’s behavior or look. Paul challenged two congregations to imitate him–the Corinthians and the Thessalonians. You are imitating someone. Who is it? Someone is going to imitate you. What will they see? And is what they see worth imitating?
“Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together” (John 4:36).
For those who embrace and live their faith as a missional pursuit discover that there is a reward to be realized “already.” The reward for faithful living isn’t for the after life only but life here and now. We are being paid already with a deep satisfaction of living a life that matters.