Archive for August, 2013
“For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).
To enter into the business of judging others may, perhaps, bring some momentary pain and/or inconvenience to the one we have so arrogantly placed ourselves over, yet doing so can bring eternal implications for the one who dares to judge. The only opinion that matters in the end is God’s; his judgment having merit for he is the only one in a position to know the full story. We gain nothing by judging but everything by being merciful.
“This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19).
For western culture, remembering is a static event that reflects back to some isolated moment in the past. The imperative given by Jesus, however, and the word that is translated as “remembrance (anamnesis),” is an active and dynamic expectation that is far more comprehensive in nature. It is the remembering of a past event, resulting in present tense consequences, and has implications for the future. The Table of the Lord isn’t just about what He did but what he is doing and will do.
“Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.‘ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you” (Acts 17:23-24).
Asking someone if they are interested in spirituality is like asking a farmer if he is interested in rain; a soldier in the foxhole if he is interested in peace; a married couple if they are interested in open and honest communication. Spirituality is esoteric, random, and indiscriminate. In contrast, faith is the spiritual renewal resulting from a commitment to the Lord Jesus and seeks, not to just believe certain truths, but labors intentionally to see these fulfilled in one’s present activities and future pursuits.
“Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, ‘I have no delight in them’” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
The earlier one becomes mindful of the Creator, and his plans and purposes, the longer one’s days of meaningful service to his Kingdom. While it is never too late for salvation the earlier this decision is made, greater is the opportunity to make choices, decisions, and to fashion one’s life to truly reflect the Lordship of Christ and to longer be his ministering presence in the world.
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever” (John 14:16).
These words, taken with the missional mandate given to the disciples in Acts 1:8, remind us that the Holy Spirit is given not only for our regeneration, but that the presence and redeeming ministry of Christ might continue to be a reality in this world through his church. The gift of the Holy Spirit was never intended for our self-expression but he is the means by which God expresses himself.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
The question of “Who am I?” is resolved when life is embraced with a sense of vocation. Vocation is rooted in the idea of “calling.” As believers the calling of God means taking on his purposes as our own. While “Who am I?” is normally a self-absorbed pursuit of self-definition, vocation reminds us that the greater question is “Whose am I?” That we are called to a missional existence is the only identity we need.
“Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:20-21).
While the cornerstone was at one time crucial to the integrity of any structure, developments in modern architecture and construction have relegated it to the status of symbolism or cosmetics. For the life of faith, however, the concept of the cornerstone is still the most accurate portrayal of what Jesus Christ brings to a person’s life. Once Jesus is set in your life as the cornerstone, he becomes the reference point from which all other things are measured. When building your life, it is the cornerstone that determines the quality of the life that will be constructed.
“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7).
To be in exile is far more extensive than geographical displacement. It is a comprehensive upheaval of all that is known, familiar, and loved. It requires a rebuilding of life from circumstances filled with grief, pain, fear, and uncertainty. As we seek to accomplish this challenging task of “going forward” a benefit is realized by those around us as they become witnesses to our living testimony of faith and hope.
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20).
The purpose of the church is never defined by the personal wants, desires, or preferences of the membership. By virtue of his absolute authority, Jesus has command over our lives and his church. As a soldier is given marching orders so the church has been commissioned for a specific task. The objective of congregational life isn’t to provide entertainment for consumers but to mobilize, train, and equip God’s army to be a missional presence in our world.
“Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of the fathers’ tribes, every one a leader among them” (Numbers 13:2).
From among the twelve chosen only two do we recognize and remember–Joshua and Caleb. These two distinguished themselves by their visionary perspective–focusing not on the obstacles but the opportunities; their single-minded devotion to a God-called task–refusing to be distracted by the complaints of the many; and their orientation to the future God was preparing–ignoring the siren call of days gone by. It is the pursuit of these qualities that make for a memorable faith.