Archive for April, 2014
“Wisdom is with aged men, with long life is understanding” (Job 12:12).
Slowly, painfully, experientially, life eventually teaches you as an old man what could have been learned as a young man had God’s word been heeded–your life is but like the morning dew burned off by the midday sun; everything changes and nothing remains the same; you will experience loss and disappointment to a degree of pain that you never thought imaginable; each day must be lived fully for it will never be again; love and grace trumps hate and bitterness. Don’t wait until you are old to wise up.
“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you” (Luke 6:31).
While many still seek to reduce the Christian faith to a rule book religion, such a proposition would require a boundless text capable of addressing every possible scenario occurring in the history of human interaction. Instead we have been given this golden guiding word to direct our relationships.
“There is one who pretends to be rich, but has nothing; another pretends to be poor, but has great wealth” (Proverbs 13:7).
To pretend to be something necessitates certain assumptions about oneself. The wealthy have only a small group to which they compare themselves. Thus, they view themselves from an elitist perspective; as having “arrived.” They are blind to their own hubris. Little wonder that these were never the focus of Jesus‘ ministry. Instead, he reached out to the least, the lost, and the last not only because, strategically, were they the largest target audience, but these were the most receptive for they had nothing material in which to trust. It is these that discover they have more than they ever imagined.
“When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What do the testimonies and the statutes and the judgments mean which the Lord our God commanded you? Then you shall say to your son…’”(Deuteronomy 6:20-21).
Memories make for powerful stories but they are also intended for the motivation of God’s people. Scripture challenges us often to remember, but never for the purpose of reflection alone. Our memories and memorials of God’s faithfulness were never intended to be a hitching post to the past but a guide post to the future. The faithfulness of God’s provision in days gone by is an assurance of his paving the way into an even greater days that lie ahead.
“Then He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me’” (Matthew 26:38).
Stoicism is a philosophical view that believes life should be lived void of any emotion. Unfortunately, many have embraced stoicism as a Christian virtue. It isn’t! The gospels reveal the emotional responses of Jesus to some of his most grievous moments–weeping at the grave of his friend Lazarus. He wept again as he considered the lostness of Jerusalem. And now, he is deeply troubled by the looming cross. Emotion is real. The only limitation place on our grief is that we do not grieve as if we have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
“In whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things” (1 John 3:20).
Every person is keenly aware of their own heart–our sins, failures, and shortcomings. Instead of self-condemnation it should turn our hearts to God, the Righteous Judge, who knows our hearts and possesses an even greater knowledge of our infirmities. It is this awareness that leads us not to hide our sins but to confess them that we might continue on the path of repentance, obedience, and doing the things that are pleasing to Him (v.21-22).
“Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it…therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken” (Genesis 2:15; 3:23).
Labor has long been considered a resulting curse of sin and the fall of man. A closer reading of the passage reveals, however, that from the beginning man was created to work. The texts offer insight to two types of work. One is a blessing, the other a curse (3:17). One is rewarding, the other toilsome (3:17). Work is a blessing when it is done as an act of stewardship; keeping and caring for that entrusted to us by a merciful God. Work is a curse when viewed only as an economic pursuit and the covetous longing for more and never getting enough.
“But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened” (Luke 24:21).
“We were hoping” is a summary statement of the expectations held by the disciples; expectations of the messiah based upon the traditions of men but lacking in scriptural merit; expectations that were crushed with Friday’s crucifixion of Jesus. As the resurrected Christ explained the scriptures to them, however, the disappointment of “we were hoping” gave way to the assurance of “The Lord has really risen” (v.34). Stay the course and he will exceed all expectations.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” (Jeremiah 1:5).
God’s comprehensive knowledge of Jeremiah is none the less true of anyone ever born. On a Friday that has been deemed as good, the cross stands as an eternal reminder that you were worth dying for. His intimate familiarity and awareness of who we are didn’t drive him away but brought him near.
“When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left” (Luke 23:33).
On three crosses were found a Savior and two criminals; each offering a word for our consideration. From Jesus comes a word of redemption–”Father, forgive them.” We are shocked that in the presence of such grace a criminal hurls abuse at Jesus–a word of rejection. The other, however, defends the innocence of Jesus while acknowledging their guilt. This one receives a word of reception and the promise of paradise. The word of the cross always brings us to a cross road as to what our lives will be about.