Archive for September, 2015
“So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city” (Genesis 11:8).
The life of faith is, and is intended to be, an unsettling experience; never allowing one to feel rooted and connected to the systems of this world and the kingdoms of men. The dispersion and diversity of language recorded in Genesis 11 isn’t a punishment but a disruption to the natural human desire that longs to settle in one place. It is not a curse but an affirmation of the missional purposes of God. Scattering and inhabiting, not settling and cloistering, is the great commission task of the church.
“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18).
In an ever-growing secular culture and pluralistic society, when so many believers are despairing for the future of the church and her role in such a world as this, might these words of Jesus offer the reassurance we need to remain steadfast. The role of building the church belongs exclusively to the living and resurrected Christ. It is not a human endeavor, but a Divine pursuit. It is his property alone, and he will construct it according to his purposes. This is the only truth that will keep us on mission and undistracted.
“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am’” (Matthew 16:15)?
How does your confession, “Jesus is Lord,” distinguish you from and stand in contrast to the plurality of religious and spiritual beliefs held by others? The confession of our faith isn’t just a decree learned in Sunday School and expressed out of familiarity. It is a statement of conviction that defines and establishes the destiny of one’s life. Jesus is Lord. Say it like you mean it.
“The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9).
Though the Apostle Paul occasionally addressed doctrinal error in his writings, his greater concern for the gospel was its expression in the world. Speaking up about the things of God is as much about our actions as it is our voices. Telling must be accompanied by showing. We say, “Actions speak louder than words;” not in terms of decibels but “more candidly,” “more honestly.” Our actions prove to be the most reliable indicator of our actual beliefs. Let us live in such a way that our words come through loud and clear.
“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (Psalm 143:8,10).
If you have ever been on a treadmill then you know that the task is made more challenging by increasing the incline of the walking platform. The uphill slope creates more resistance, requiring greater effort. In the same way, we discover that the treadmill of life meets with greater resistance when there is an ever increasing slope of bad choices, bad relationships, and bad habits that clutter our path. Level ground and a less strenuous path is found in the knowledge of God’s love and a commitment to live by the precepts of His word.
Follow the lead of His good Spirit.
“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is’” (Matthew 16:13)?
This is not the question of some insecure leader wanting to know how well he is liked, or where he stands in the public opinion polls. While the responses he received were quite flattering, being compared to other well known personalities, they fall short of what is necessary for a life of discipleship that demands absolute allegiance to one Lord. The historic confession of the church, “Jesus is Lord,” is to proclaim and embrace his supremacy in all matters of faith and practice. He is not one among many; he is the One and only.
“The Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said to Himself, ‘I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done” (Genesis 8:21).
One thing that hasn’t changed as result of the flood is man’s heart. It is still evil. The real change is seen in the heart of God. He will not allow the rebellion of man to detract him from his hopes, dreams, and aspirations for his created order. Thus, the flood isn’t so much about water and rainbows as it is God and his grace. He has inundated our world with undeserved and immeasurable grace in the hope that we might rise above the despair that seeks to drown out our lives. A fresh start is never about our goodness but God’s grace.
“The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart” (Genesis 6:6).
My prayer is that this passage might reshape your understanding and perspective on the nature and character of our heavenly Father. He is not an angry tyrant waiting for you to make a mistake; that he might have opportunity to mete out punishment upon you but, rather, he is a troubled parent who grieves over the waywardness of his rebellious children. He is not enraged against us. He mourns for us. He longs to receive, embrace, and give a fresh start to those in need of his grace.
“Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9).
Out of nowhere appears Noah. When the earth is on the brink of being destroyed; when God has decreed emphatically that he will blot out man, the life of Noah is introduced in such a way that it changes the entire storyline. His presence brought hope and renewed possibilities. Noah is a reminder to each one of us about the agency of our influence; in a world that seems despairingly lost, our presence as salt and light can be the game-changer.
“Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah’” (Matthew 17:4).
Jesus didn’t want tabernacles for the purpose of freezing mountaintop experiences in time. It was an experience intended to inform the mission. In just five more verses, Jesus, along with Peter, James, and John will be coming down from the mount of transfiguration to the valley of brokenness that awaits them below. It’s only a perverted form of Christianity that seeks to sequester itself among the safety and security of our own kind. It’s impossible to be salt and light to the world when the worlds we seek to create for ourselves are comprised of just us.