Archive for November, 2013
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14).
Jesus doesn’t say we will be, may be, or can be the light of the world. No, today’s text offers a definitive statement about who we are as believers and the influence we have in the world. Ours is a radiant and penetrating presence. The smallest light in the darkest room becomes the means by which others can find the way.
“I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good besides You’” (Psalm 16:2).
When one declares Jesus as Lord, and he is given the place of preeminence, the impact is pervasive. His reign in our life alters the way we look at everything else. All the things we once considered important; worthy of our pursuit and attainment are now, not just diminished in value, but of no good whatsoever. Nothing else compares when Jesus is Lord.
“Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it” (Psalm 119:35).
The life of faith is all the more enriching when obedience to God’s word emerges from a heart that “wants to” instead of a legalism that “has to”. Obedience originates in the heart and when our heart’s delight is to please the Father, we discover the motivation, energy, and power of his Spirit to bring its accomplishment.
“that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief” (Ephesians 3:3).
Revelation is the process of God making himself and his purposes known; it’s a pulling back of the veil so that we might understand those things once hidden and unknown. The coming of Christ is the full revelation of God and has made known to us that even we, Gentiles, are recipients of and full partakers in the promises afforded the chosen people of God. Mystery solved.
“For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3).
In isolation is an unnecessary way to face adversity. To be alone in our struggles only exacerbates the pain and it’s debilitating effects. Jesus did what he did upon Calvary’s cross to redeem us from our sins but also to sustain and inspire us in our pain; that both the fellowship of his Spirit and the community of his Body might support and energize us for another day.
“One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life” (Psalm 27:4).
As David is about to be attacked by a formidable foe, the greater enemy to be faced is his own fear. Fear is the warning that danger, real or perceived, is near. This very human emotion can be either positive or paralyzing. In such circumstances, David prays not for victory over or destruction of his enemies, but the presence of the Lord. The house of the Lord is a common metaphor for the presence of God. With the confidence that he is near, fear recedes.
“When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner'” (Luke 19:7).
We would do well to emulate Jesus, who acted as a guest in seeking to bring another to the redeeming purposes of God. Why would we ever consider doing otherwise while visiting and entertaining others? Consider how you carry yourself when traveling in a foreign land or a city with which you are unfamiliar–kind, courteous, and curious. As a people who live as “aliens” and “strangers” (1 Peter 2:11) in this present world, perhaps acting as guests would improve the possibilities of bringing others with us to the world that is to come.
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come” (2 Timothy 4:6).
As one who has been pouring himself out as a living sacrifice to the service of his Lord, the Apostle Paul now sees death approaching. His words offer a needed reminder that, for believers, death is not the end but a departure to a new beginning. Whether or not you actually believe this is evidenced by your attitude toward time. Do you long for time to slow down? Or lament for times gone by? For a certain life chapter to be frozen in time? The biblical view, however, is to see the necessity of time’s passage if we are to arrive to that which God has prepared. Time passing isn’t a commodity lost but a pathway to what lies ahead.
“but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15).
It’s tragic when Christians interpret probing questions of their faith to be blasphemous attacks on the gospel. Most believers seem to do well in making strident assertions about their faith while lacking the ability to explain their faith. Thus, I suspect that our being offended by inquirers is but a front for our inability or unwillingness to answer. Our failure to respond, however, leaves the impression that we have no answers to give and the perception that faith is irrational and without merit. Just listen to the questions patiently. You have the answer.
“For as a man thinks within himself, so he is” (Proverbs 23:7).
The wisdom of God’s word predates the power of positive thinking or any such psychological offerings. The practical reality of the life of faith is that it is played out only as we make it the center of our thought processes. This is why Solomon would counsel us to guard our hearts, for it is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23). The focal point of one’s life becomes, ultimately, the action of one’s life.