Archive for June, 2014
“Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called” (1 Corinthians 7:24).
In whatever circumstances we were found upon our conversion, this becomes the starting place for faithful living. The life of faith isn’t so much about changing our circumstances as it is redeeming our circumstances. If my call is to bring honor and glory to the Father as I face the ever-changing circumstances of life, then I must bloom where I am planted.
“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith” (Matthew 6:30)!
For us to speak of our faith as believers is to say we know our Heavenly Father and we are known by him. Even so, the life of faith can be filled with contradictions, alternating between victorious living and frightened failure. Yes, this qualifies us to be counted among those of “little faith.” Yet, it is our faith that informs and convicts us that we are born (again) for more than this. He does not abandon little faith, but nurtures it and completes it on the Day of The Lord.
“Freely you received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8).
Sent out among those who have nothing, and can offer nothing in return, is the best reminder that the One who brought salvation did so among us whose lives were impoverished by sin with no righteous to offer. Thus, the gift we did not deserve asks only that we give to others what we ourselves have received. Those rich in grace have a desire to pass it on.
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul” (Matthew 16:26)?
It is chilling to contemplate that the human soul is a possession that can be forfeited or exchanged. And for what? The implication of Jesus is that there is no more precious commodity than the soul; that even if the entire world could be gained it would be of no value in comparison to the soul of a person. An interesting contrast to this passage is Paul’s view that the only gain to be had is in dying; that profit is realized by departing from this world to be with Christ (Philippians 1:21-22).
“When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips wise” (Proverbs 10:19).
When words are no longer effective in explaining away sin, the next step is to change the definition of words so as to accommodate our sin. For instance, sanctity of life issues such as abortion are draped in the language of choice. Euthanasia is now described as an act of mercy or dying with dignity. Most recently, marriage, a term historically, cross culturally, and theologically (All major world religions) understood as male plus female, has fallen into the quagmire of verbal revision and the unprecedented notion of it being a union of two people and no longer defined by gender. While, in the name of progress, activists seek to denigrate marriage to nothing more than a social/sexual arrangement, it is the church that must model the design, mystery, symbolism, givenness, and implications of marriage.
“The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” (1 Corinthians 7:4).
The handing over of authority to others is an act of submission. What Paul is advocating for the covenant of marriage is the practice of mutual submission; a husband and wife forgoing their personal rights and privileges for the well-being of the other. This is a frontline application of the admonition to all Christians to be “subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).
“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm” (John 18:36).
When considering kingdoms, how they are built and sustained, one thinks naturally of conquering armies, political processes, legislative appointments, and sympathetic judges. The kingdom Jesus ushered in, however, died for, and seeks to perpetuate through his church is not accomplished by such human resourceful. His is a supernatural kingdom realized not by the strong but the weak; not the popularly elected but the uniquely called; not those who rule but those who serve. His is not a kingdom won by us for him, but by him for us. Though we must participate in the process, our greatest hope is to be discovered not in the ballot box of partisan politics but the bruised knees of praying saints.
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
There is no alternative choice—we either overcome evil or we are overcome by it. The natural response is to return wrong for wrong, slander for slander, hurt for hurt, evil for evil. In so doing, we have been overcome by evil at the very time we could have been victorious. The charge before us isn’t to endure evil but overcome it. It is a labor of love and grace that we undertake to preserve and perpetuate that which we have experienced in Christ. It is what can be accomplished when we live as victors in Christ instead of victims of circumstances.
“Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves” (Luke 10:3).
While it seems an unfair situation, it must be recalled that we now possess the same nature and are equipped with the same resources as the One sending us. To be sent by our Lord is to have all fear removed, for just as the crucifixion did not end his life nor negate his ministry neither shall we be overcome by the hostile world in which we live, serve, and minister. His resurrection makes resurrection living our possibility.
“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12).
The freedom believers have in Christ Jesus led some in the Corinthian church to declare, “All things are lawful to me.” It was to this that Paul offered his two statements of check-and-balance…”but not all things are profitable” and “I will not be mastered by anything.” My experience has been that those who speak most often of their “freedom” in Christ do so in association with some social behavior or lifestyle practice not widely embraced by the greater faith community. In verses 12-20 Paul offers counsel for a more mature and responsible approach to handling our freedom in Christ. In the light of these scripture, we would do well to ask ourselves the following questions before exercising our liberty: Will it benefit the witness of the church? Will it reveal Christ’ lordship in my life? Will it depict resurrection living? Will it glorify God?