Archive for January, 2014
“And I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them” (Jeremiah 32:39).
The distraction of multi-tasking is the result of multi-faceted lives resulting from multi-kingdom strongholds. Thus, having one heart–a single-minded devotion that seeks first the Kingdom of God–becomes the challenge of discipleship. Faith isn’t the “silver bullet” that brings balance to our lives but, rather, it is the lens that brings focus and priority.
“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth’” (Revelation 3:14, 15-16).
A few miles northwest of Laodicea was the mountain city of Hierapolis, known for its natural hot springs. About the same distance southward was Colossae and an enviable cold water spring. Because Laodicea had neither, it was dependent upon the transfer of water via aqueduct from these two neighboring towns. By the time the water reached Laodicea, however, it had lost its uniqueness; the hot water had cooled and the cold water had warmed. This isn’t a verse about varying levels of commitment; it is about being a distinctive people. Be remarkable!
“Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3).
In a culture that worships at the golden calf of self-serving individualism, most seek and embrace a religious expression that they have fashioned for themselves and consider to be unique. To be a follower of Christ, however, is to subscribe to a common set of historic beliefs held by preceding generations for 2000 years of Christian history. A personal faith should never be understood as personalized beliefs.
“Woman believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshippers.” (John 4:21-23)
Cultural Christians contextualize worship in terms of time and place. Consumer Christians think of worship in terms of style, preference, and the expectation of being accommodated. True worship, however, is offered in spirit and truth and takes place at the feet of Jesus.
“For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 2:17).
Like any true prophet, the apostle Paul is committed to avoiding the trap of “relevancy” and “flavor of the day” issues but seeks, instead, to provide teaching and preaching that transcends the felt needs of the moment. Gospel gimmickry may offer microwave answers to the problems in front of you, but the crock pot stewing of the full counsel of God elicits an awareness of needs you may have never before considered. God’s desires so much more for you. Thus, we should desire more for ourselves.
“But wishing to justify himself, he (the lawyer) said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” (Luke 10:29).
That this question follows his quoting of the great commandment–To love the Lord your God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind; and your neighbor as yourself–indicates that while he knew the scriptures by heart, he had not taken them to heart. His question seeks to hedge his bets; to find the least common denominator; it captures well the concern that he has for himself and no one else. Beneficiaries of God’s mercy realize there is no one who isn’t their neighbor.
“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).
As a follower of Jesus you are a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit. While two words in Greek can be translated as temple, one referring to the temple proper, the apostle Paul utilizes the word referring to the holy of holies within the temple. Holiness is embodied not in a place or a building but within our lives. Wherever you are is sacred space. We must live accordingly.
“He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters” (Matthew 12:30).
Gathering is central to the life and ministry of Jesus. He was sent by God as the Missionary Savior. Thus, gathering is the missional task of the church. This focal point is the key to overcoming a consumer mentality and is the one exercise that prevents spiritual atrophy and inward preoccupation in the life of a congregation.
“After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased’” (Matthew 3:16-17).
Reflect upon the significance of your baptism. It is a celebration of one’s faith, a confirmation of one’s identity, and a commissioning of one’s life. From this event forward, each day is a continued unveiling of who you are in Christ Jesus; dying daily to self that he might be better revealed in us.
“He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” (Ephesians 1:5).
That we are a predestined people was never intended to create confusion but to bring clarity. Only a cruel god would offer a deterministic salvation that is limited in scope. Ours is a kind and gracious God who seeks to encourage a persecuted and suffering people that they are children of destiny; that the purposes of God for your life will be accomplished. Ultimately, it is a word of motivation to hang in there.