Archive for November, 2013
“‘But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.’ They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them” (Mark 10:31:32).
It is a powerful visual–Jesus teaching his disciples about the cost of discipleship; of a life poured out in sacrifice to others; that allegiance to him supersedes all familial ties; an abandonment of all human agendas set before you. The world will look at such a life spent as a waste, yet, you will have gained more than the world could have ever offered. Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve, himself, models this paradoxical teaching–offering his first/last last/first analogy while walking ahead of his disciples. For those who achieve worldly preeminence–Congratulations! Now, please, just step to the back of the line.
“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe;…” (Acts 2:42-47).
We long for the experience of connection; feelings of intimacy, nearness, oneness with our Lord and Savior. Many, however, seek such an experience while never having practiced, as a rhythm of life, the disciplines necessary to see such an experience accomplished–historically accurate bible study, shared communion, the messiness of fellowship, prayer. In other words, many want a self-serving experience without the rigors of discipleship; emotion without devotion; connection without a cross; blessings without the burdens; belonging while rejecting the responsibilities and rigors of congregational life. It’s only as we are continually devoting ourselves to the disciplines of our faith that sensationalized moments can be replaced by feelings of a genuine and lasting experience.
“Put on the full of armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).
The evil perpetuated by the devil is schemed. It emerges from a methodology (“method” being the Greek origin of “scheme”); it is planned, calculated; deliberate. In contrast, the work of God is open; it is done in the light; it is transparent. Jesus never schemes to gain our allegiance. He, in fact, challenges us to count the cost before we would follow after him. When the commitment is made, however, we must counter the deliberate evil of this world with deliberate expressions of all things good, right, and holy.
“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.