Archive for March, 2015
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
The Father’s will is never as hidden and mysterious as we might imagine or pretend. If, each day, by simply embracing the three admonitions found in today’s scripture, we would discover that the will of God is being accomplished in us. Therefore, practice these imperatives–be joyful, pray always, and give thanks in all things.
“Our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt” (Acts 7:39).
In recounting the events of Israel’s idol worship at Sinai, Luke offers a telling insight into what was holding them back. Instead of faith driving them forward to an unknown land of promise, they were stymied by the memory of a known past–Egypt. Even though Egypt represented slavery, the familiarity that it offered was preferred over the uncertainty of a mysterious future. Like us, Israel discovered that it’s easier to talk about faith than it is to actually go forward in faith. A faith that is preoccupied with the past can easily become a religion of idol worship.
“Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, ‘Come, make us a god who will go before us…” (Exodus 32:1).
While Aaron resented the leadership role of his younger brother (Numbers 12:1), God’s choice of Moses proved providential in the golden calf debacle. God calls those who will endure and stay faithful to the mission, and task of leading God’s people into the future promises that He has already prepared for them. Like many that occupy American pulpits today, Aaron took the path of least resistance; abandoned both his prophetic and priestly role, acquiesced to the crowd; cratered to their consumer wants; allowing them to fabricate gods and forms of religion they could direct. Religious pretense will bring satisfaction for the moment but it will leave you wanting in eternity. The one who can make gods out of gold is a poor substitute for the one committed to bringing us God’s commands. Faith hungers for the needs of the soul not the wants of the flesh.
“He took the calf which they had made and burned it with fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it over the surface of the water and made the sons of Israel drink it (Exodus 32:20).
Every day, we awaken and begin drinking at the altar of the god we serve. It is either the one true and living God or it is a god we have fashioned for ourselves. One or the other drives us in everything we do. Ultimately, we drink ourselves to death at these altars. Israel sought to quench their thirsting souls at the altar of a false idol, and an entire generation died in the wilderness. Jesus says it’s only those who eat his flesh and drink his blood that has eternal life John 6). By this we experience death to self and the discovery of life anew.
“…and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Romans 13:14).
To be diligent in faith requires posturing ourselves for success and not failure. Better than anyone, we know our vulnerabilities. We are keenly aware of people and places that do not bring out our best and exacerbate our worst. Instead of walking into “harm’s way” and hoping for the best, to make no provision for the flesh is a superior, proactive measure that seeks to remove any opportunity for temptation to present itself.
“Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than we believed” (Romans 13:12).
Any possibility of “doing faith” correctly must include a sense of the Lord’s imminent return. It is the means by which we stave off being absorbed into this present culture. The impotence of the American church isn’t so much that it’s declining as it is reclining. It’s time to awaken.
“Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; he will never allow the righteous to be shaken” (Psalm 55:22).
Inevitably, we awaken each day with something on our mind; something that preoccupies us to such a degree that it distracts and makes us less productive. It’s like going through the day with a backpack filled with stones. Why not exchange the backpack for a yoke? The Lord assures us that it’s easy and His burden is light. Choose to travel light today.
“Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength ; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40:31).
As we live between the first and second coming of our Lord the waiting is not to be an idle time of slothfulness. We are to embrace fully the duties of the day and perform each in a way that reflects our dedication to Him.
“Whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you” (Colossians 3:13).
The question must be asked. Is your wounded, bitter, vengeful view of someone enhancing your discipleship as a follower of Christ? Is it contributing to Christ-like character being played-out in your life? Is the fruit of the Spirit now more evident? Is it creating within you a greater thirst for God’s word? To hear it proclaimed? Have these feelings brought about a greater desire to participate in congregational life and gather together with God’s people in worship? As those who claim God’s forgiveness, the only antidote to such negative emotions is choosing to forgive. Where forgiveness is withheld, our future is captive to the constant rerun of a script written in the past. Forgiveness writes a new scene, a new chapter, and allows the eye of our mind to see the story continuing forward in a redemptive way. Claiming God’s grace and mercy for oneself while refusing it for others is to make a mockery of one’s supposed faith. Drink the medicine and get well soon.
“Absalom provided for himself a chariot and horses and fifty men as runners before him. But Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, ‘As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then you shall say, ‘Absalom is king in Hebron’’” (2 Samuel 15:1,10).
Lacking in substance, Absalom was all about appearances. He was a $30 haircut on a 10 cent head. Thus, between verses 1 and 10 are eight verses representing forty years (four years in some ancient texts) of subterfuge, pandering, and sowing seeds of discord in his effort to undermine David’s leadership and to disrupt the fellowship of God’s people. While his pretentious act of noble concerns would fool many, the ignominious deeds of the vengeful are eventually recognized and leaves them hanging (18:9) in the misery of their own kind.