Archive for November, 2014
“Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy before the Lord, for He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in His righteous” (Psalm 96:12-13).
Instead of fearful dread the church of the Lord Jesus Christ should look to God’s final judgement with a sense of joyful anticipation. While the court of public opinion has maligned and marginalized his church, it’s at the judgement bar of God that his justice will prevail and the life of faith vindicated once and for all. Even so, Lord Jesus, come.
“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving and pay your vows to the Most High” (Psalm 50:14).
The offering of a sacrifice requires thought and intentionality; it does not occur naturally. In regard to Thanksgiving day, for most it will be only an acknowledgment of what is before them. The psalmist, however, reminds us that our thanksgiving should be for the One above us. He is the Provider of all that is before us. We are a people indebted to his gracious provision.
“All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:32).
“I wanted to, but…,” “I meant to, but…,” “I intended to, but…” We have all used these, or some semblance of these phrases, to excuse our inaction. Today’s passage leaves none of us unscathed. Coming on the heels of the parable of the talents, the goats represent those condemned not for what they have done but what they have failed to do. It’s true. In life I have found that I soon get over the sins I have committed, while I am haunted by my sins of omission; the things I should have done but didn’t. I’m thankful for the grace extended to old goats.
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Indeed,’ has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’’ (Genesis 3:1)?
The question of the serpent points to the freedom that God has woven into the fabric of his created order. Questioning what God has said implies that his words are open to being debated, discussed, questioned and, thus, either accepted or rejected. Instead of mindless puppets on string, God has created us as free will beings. By this he solicits the love of human kind as they make choices and decisions that seek to honor and glorify their heavenly Father.
“When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field nor gather the gleaming of your harvest, you are to leave them for the needy and the alien. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 23:22).
These words from the Lord to Moses, and spoken to the people, were part of the specific instructions for properly observing the Feast of Weeks (Harvest Feast), a festival of thanksgiving for God’s faithful provision. Our offerings of thanksgiving are incomplete when our only thoughts are of all that we have. Being beneficiaries of grace, our fullest expression of a truly thankful heart is to be seen in our advocacy and provision for those who are without; those on the outside looking in; those longing for more than what this life can offer.
“Now will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them” (Luke 18:7)?
Standing before an unjust judge, the persistent appeal of the widow is a needed reminder that we are not defenseless in the face of injustice. Even when it seems our prayers are unheard, void, hollow; when the answers we desire are not forthcoming, it is only as we continue in prayer that we discover its power. In an unjust world, unceasing prayer is both our fortress and our weaponry.
“May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5).
Faithfulness to anything—marriage, a vocation, a hobby—is driven by love. It is a quality of love determined not by the emotions of the moment but the resolve of the heart, mind, and soul. The world presents many mistresses that compete for our affections, but it is the experience of God’s love that keeps us firm in our devotion to Christ.
“For it is fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing man sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:10).
Suffering is universal and is best understood as part of the human condition within the brokenness of creation. While some consider suffering incompatible with life and that it’s only when pain is absent that joy and fulfillment can be experienced, the life of Jesus comes to say otherwise; that salvation and life itself is fully known only through suffering. Apart from suffering, the news that Jesus delivers is just that–more news; more information. It’s only when you have known suffering, loss, disappointment, grief, and tragedy that the news of Jesus becomes Good News.
“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
In a culture where so many think they need nothing and that all they have is sufficient, it is the eventual crises of life that awakens them to the insufficiency of what they have. A life spent on the pursuit of everything you want is the quickest path of missing out on the God who knows what you need. Wants and needs are drawn from two different wells.
“you shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, but you will go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac” (Genesis 24: 3-4).
Whether married or single, each would do well to consider the implications of marriage being communicated by Abraham to his servant regarding an appropriate wife for Isaac. It is a relationship not to be entered into casually because of cultural expectations, but selectively on the basis of shared beliefs, common values, and life mission of glorifying God. He has designed this covenant relationship of marriage to perpetuate the covenant of faith in the forthcoming generations.