Archive for September, 2014
“But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you” (1 Corinthians 14:24-25).
Because eternity is long and time is short the church can ill-afford to soft-peddle and “slick up” the gospel in the hope that it might appeal to consumers and build a crowd. With great clarity our preaching and teaching must explore the depths of the human condition while telling the story of God’s sufficient grace. Only by conviction and conversion can His Church be built.
“But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church” (1 Corinthians 14:3-4).
While not diminishing the legitimacy of glossolalia (tongues), the apostle believes it to be a spiritual gift best utilized at the altar of private worship so as not to become a distraction. For corporate worship, he advocates intelligible speech that clearly communicates the word of God, as opposed to unintelligible words that are of no benefit to the larger body of assembled believers. Biblically, corporate worship was never intended to be a showcase of our individual expression, but an altar that calls all attention to Him.
“You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself?” (Romans 2:21).
God’s desire isn’t that we might offer our gifts to him, but that the gifts he has so graciously bestowed upon us might be manifested in our lives. As a people who so reverently venerate God’s word and so zealously defend and proclaim it, we must all the more allow it to shape our attitudes and actions.
“Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, ‘For,’ he said, ‘God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household’” (Genesis 41:51).
The human capacity to remember is both helpful and hurtful. It is helpful in the recall of things we need to know and hurtful when remembering things best forgotten. Joseph chose to forget the many hurtful things perpetuated against him by others. In Hebrew it carries the idea of being “oblivious to” or “unmindful of.” Storing up bitterness becomes a cancer of the soul. It’s akin to you eating rat poison and hoping the rat will die.
“Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life” (Jude 21).
Have you accepted the fact that you have been accepted by God? To continue on in the struggle of whether or not God loves and accepts you is to pay homage to a plan of redemption based upon your performance. God’s mercy is the source of our deliverance not the misery of religion.
“Salvation belongs to the Lord; Your blessing be upon Your people! Selah” (Psalm 3:8).
Three times the word appears in this Psalm; sixty-eight other occasions in the Psalter, and three times in Habakkuk. Though difficult to translate, Selah, is best understood as something akin to “stop and listen” or, as the Amplified Bible translates it, “pause, and think of that. It is a word of vital instruction to the reading or singing of the text. Selah
“My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill. He expected it to produce good grapes. Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones?” (Isaiah 5:1,2,4).
The words of a prophet are always haunting. Their words linger because God’s Spirit convicts us that they are true while our flesh convinces us that our religious tokens are sufficient. I am haunted by expectations and they linger constantly not because I must work for salvation but that God has worked for mine. Grace is the fertilizer that stimulates fruit-bearing.
“When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it” (Luke 19:41).
Even in the life of Jesus, ministry brought the oscillating emotions of joy and sorrow. The joy of proclaiming and seeing accomplished God’s blessed work of redemption and renewal is balanced by grief for those who reject it. The One who calls us to perfect joy finds only sorrow when his grace is refused.
“But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel” (Romans 9:6).
It would be shortsighted to think Jesus’ rejection by the Jews invalidates God word or negates the promises made. The promises to a people called Israel were more comprehensive than could ever been imagined by the natural mind; not limited to ethnicity or biology. It’s yet another reminder that the redemptive assurances found in God’s word reach far beyond the limited capacities of human understanding.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).
The pursuit of Christlikeness and honoring the Father offers a vividness and richness that is rarely appreciated. God is secure enough in his sovereignty that he gives us the free will to make choices and decisions that direct our lives toward him. God’s word is best understood not as a map of specific roads and turns, but a compass that points us in the direction we must go to discover all that he desires for us. His word illuminates the path for those committed to following after him.