Archive for March, 2014
“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12).
The spirit of the world conditions us to believe only in those things that we can see, hear, or imagine within the realm of our human experience (ref. 2:9). The Spirit of God, however, exceeds these limitations and introduces us to a life of faith that transcends the natural order; bringing clarity and understanding to the supranatural means by which God has acted through the life and ministry of Jesus for our salvation. If you understand this; if you “get it,” thank God for the work of his Spirit in your life.
“Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. Today, if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah” (Psalm 95:6-8).
It seems the act of worship is not only a blessing, and an act of obedience, but also a preventative. While this is primarily a known Psalm of praise, and a call to worship, it is the hope of the psalmist that by so doing we might not repeat the sins of past generations. It is the heart focused on worship that best avoids the sins of an idol mind.
“Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when absent, such persons we are also in deed when present” (2 Corinthians 10:11).
Paul’s letters to the churches, written in absentia, expressed the foundational teachings of the Christian faith. Yet, how he lived, while present with them, was the very embodiment of those teachings. In other words, there was no difference between his stated beliefs and how he lived. The challenge of each day is bringing together what we know and what we do.
“For they say, ‘His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible’” (2 Corinthians 10:10).
“They” had a very strong, negative, and critical opinion of Paul that was shared at every opportunity. He didn’t possess the oratorical skills of eloquence, theatrics, and creativity “they” valued among the cultural heroes of their day. The irony of it all is we don’t know who “they” are while the life and ministry of Paul continues to shape the church of the Lord Jesus Christ 2000 years after his critics. The lesson: marry the popular trends of your generation and you will be a widow in the next.
“For I determined to to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
Paul refused to enter into the contest of relevancy that spoke only to the issues of the day. His use of the perfect passive participle, “crucified,” is a grammatical indicator that while the cross is a past tense event it continues to have a present tense effect. In other words, while issues and circumstances change, the cross is constant. Circumstances are symptomatic. The answer to the disease that plagues humankind is the cross and carrying it in a way that is transformational.
“Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker” (Psalm 95:1).
They were a people who had known invasion, war, deportation, and much more. Shared grief, brokenness, and despair has a way of drawing people together. For the people of God the common need for worship transcends the despondency of the moment. Even when your heart is emotionally distant, the intentional worship of the sovereign God of creation hastens the transformation and shaping of your perspective.
“Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger burned against David and he said, ‘Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your insolence and the wickedness of your heart; for you have come in order to see the battle'” (1 Samuel 17:28).
While critics will always seek to deflate, discourage, and impede those seeking to fulfill the forward advance of the Kingdom of God, it can be even more disheartening when they are found among those closest to us. A critic’s view of life is to limit everything and everyone to what they have always been. They are judgmental spectators of all that is wrong and never a redeeming solution to what God is seeking to make right. If God is calling you to a task that requires walking by faith, don’t let the critics trip you up.
“The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent” (Exodus 14:14).
Whether Pharoah’s army, overwhelming grief, debilitating fear, or anguish for struggling family members, life’s multifaceted and unpredictable circumstances can pursue us with such intensity that we are overwhelmed and driven to silence by the humbling recognition that we cannot fix “it.” It is in this place that we can best see the Lord as our Advocate, our Comforter, and Deliverer.
“And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42).
There is, perhaps, no greater confirmation of a transformational faith than the action of doing the littlest of things for the littlest of people; those who are the most vulnerable; those counted as insignificant. The yet to be humbled ego still thinks of serving God in terms of the grandiose; praying constantly about doing something really big for the Kingdom of God. All the while, missing the most immediate opportunities that could have answered with the most simple of gestures.
“But Jesus said to them, ‘Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?’” (Mark 10:38).
Who would have imagined that the idea of drinking from a cup could be fraught with so much meaning; that it so metaphorically captures the idea of suffering and death that our Lord would even pray that this cup might pass from Him (Mt.26:39). It is a cup of self-sacrifice depicting suffering and death for the cause of Christ by every believer. With this understanding the question begs from us even more thoughtful contemplation—“Are you able to drink the cup?” What’s easy to profess is more challenging to swallow.