Archive for September, 2013
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
While most have heard these words, I wonder how many have ever considered those twelve that surrounded Jesus; that he would have referred to as his friends. One was Judas, three quarreled over which of them would be the greatest in heaven, in the Garden three could not even stay awake to pray, at his arrest all would run in fear, and Peter would deny him. It’s just another reminder that it’s not our merits that garner God’s love. He loves us despite our demerits.
“Praise the LORD ! How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who greatly delights in His commandments” (Psalm 112:1).
To delight in his commandments is to know the reward of arranging one’s life according to God’s design. Is their any greater satisfaction in the life of faith than to respond to a situation in a manner that reflects one’s commitment in Christ, rather than having allowed our anger, frustration, or some other negative emotion dictate our response. We praise the Lord for we know it is his Spirit performing this transformational work.
“For by You I can run upon a troop; and by my God I can leap over a wall” (Psalm 18:29).
Alone, and without armor David was prepared and confident to face his giant. While I don’t know what battles you’re facing or what obstacles stand before you, I’m confident that we are never overmatched. As in the life of David, overcoming life’s challenges is never dependent upon what we can’t do but, rather, what God can do.
“These thing I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11).
Listen to individuals speak of their want of happiness in life and you soon discover why it has yet to be realized—their quest has evolved into a selfish preoccupation. The joy that Jesus offers stands in stark contrast to the happiness that the world seeks. Joy is the experience to be had by those who live life as a selfless pursuit for the benefit of others.
“This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering” (2 Thessalonians 1:5).
If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving, why is there suffering in the world? It’s a question that has long existed and is the most common argument used by unbelievers to debate the existence of God. For centuries theologians have sought to answer the question with various theodicies that seek to defend God. For believers, however, the greater question of suffering isn’t one of why but how–how do we respond? There is never a circumstance when we are not providentially situated; when we are not called to be salt and light; to bear testimony of the hope that is in us.
“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
That some professing believers fall in love with rules and regulations indicates a systemic dysfunction in their understanding and practice of the life of faith. Religion produces rules while a relationship with Jesus evokes love. While all the commandments of Jesus are important, they are rightly practiced when understood within this context. When our love for others grows out of our love for Christ all the other commands will take care of themselves.
“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete” (Colossians 2:9-10a).
The provision of God the Father to Jesus the Son has been provided to us as disciples. The same power that brought forth the resurrection 2000 years ago brings salvation and resurrection to our lives today. As believers we lack for nothing that is necessary to accomplish the purposes of God in our world. Whether it is played out in our daily lives is determined by our willingness to crucify our will for his.
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
“Entirely” and “complete” indicate a holistic view of life accomplished by God through our spirit, soul and, finally, the body. This is a reversal of the priorities evidenced in our culture that has come to worship the human form, to the point of worshipping the creature over the Creator. More and more is being spent on maintaining the physical appearances of days gone by with little regard for the forthcoming days of eternity.
“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)
Ever wonder how a quarterback can so successfully time an “out pattern” before the receiver has ever made his cut? Or how Michael Jordan, in the middle of a game, could make a free throw with his eyes closed? Repetition is the key–doing something over and over until it becomes second nature. It is no less true in our spiritual life. We are to rejoice not in our ever-changing circumstances but in the never-changing Lord. We condition ourselves to rejoice always only as it is done repetitiously.
“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).
There is no more miserable life than the one preoccupied with it’s own existence; where all arrows point in and never out. We are created to serve; saved to serve; gifted to serve. With one trifling exception the world is made up of others. Thus, we should not be surprised that the fulness of serving God is never realized until we commit ourselves to their service.