Archive for October, 2015
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3).
On two occasions I have stated by name the places I would be unwilling to serve. Both times these became the very places God sent me. It was so obvious that the Lord had prepared the way that I could do no other. Both experiences were enriching and endearing to my soul and we grieved deeply upon our departure.
In contrast, there was one occasion when I jumped at the opportunity to go to a particular place because it appealed to everything I, personally, enjoy, and it was a place I had always dreamed of living. Half-joking (the other half telling the truth), I even said, “Patti, you pack the bags while I pray about this.” The result proved to be my most challenging years in ministry.
If you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans. Plans committed to the Lord look different from those committed to self-interests.
“He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him” (John 1:6).
Like John the Baptist, we live as witnesses to testify about the Light so that others might believe. The simplicity of this cannot be overemphasized. While our tendency is to quantify believing with such measurable terms as deeply, entirely, profoundly, etc., John’s gospel never uses a single adverb or adjective with the verb believe. Simple, unqualified believing in Jesus is the starting place for a life of faith that will, indeed, grow eventually into all the adjectives and adverbs that God would desire. Until then, our challenge is to be a witness that is believable.
“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:5).
The eye of an artist perceives light and shadows in a way that others do not. The same should be said of the followers of Christ; that in a world filled with darkness, where oppressive shadows seek to confuse, discourage, and blind us, our eyes are aware of the Light that illuminates a path of hope. The verb tense of today’s passage is a reminder that the Light of Christ isn’t limited to a past tense point of reference but is a continuing present tense reality, even on the darkest of days.
“When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear” (Matthew 14:26).
With their unpredictable nature and uncertain outcomes, the storms of life can be a terrifying experience; so terrifying, in fact, they can blind us to the presence of our Savior. How often it is that only after the fact we see the hand of God working all things together for good. We need not fear the storms. They always pass. Faith isn’t formed in an easy chair. It is forged in the crucible of hardship. Otherwise, we are just another gathering of religious people.
“Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ And He said, Come!’” (Matthew 14:28-29).
An obedient faith brings unimaginable possibilities to the life of any believer. While we may never walk on water, we, nonetheless, have the Lord’s presence as we run the course set before us. Though Peter did the greater thing — walking on water — he was unnerved by the lesser thing — the wind. We are designed for a supernatural life. Don’t let your possibilities drown in the natural order of things.
“And Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road” (Mark 10:52).
Coming to a place of faith in and commitment to the person of Jesus is the most transforming experience in a person’s life. It brings not only wellness to the brokenness of the human condition, but it sets the course for one’s life; a path that will journey in unimaginable directions and unanticipated places. Conversion isn’t the end but, rather, the start of a life long pursuit. Following Jesus down the road is the Spirit-filled response to having experienced his healing touch of salvation.
“Blessed are those who are merciful to others; God will be merciful to them!
“Blessed are the pure in heart; they shall see God!
“Blessed are those who work for peace; God will call them his children” (Matthew 5:7-9)!
While everyone wants happiness, few discover its path. Most think it is to be found in the fulfillment of our inward desires and wants. The occasional, selfless soul, however, discovers that happiness is a by-product realized in an outward focus directed toward the benefit of others.
The word “blessed” means “happy” or “fortunate.” Happiness is found in offering mercy when everyone else stands ready to condemn. Those truly happy have a pure, single-minded devotion to the things of God. These happy and fortunate souls are a people of action, working for peace, not sitting idly by hoping it will just happen. It’s only as we think outside of ourselves that we stand any chance of discovering the path to a blessedly happy life.
“I, Paul, am writing this greeting with my own hand. Remember that I am being held by chains” (Colossians 4:18).
We have all experienced the encouragement of an unexpected handwritten note or personal letter that arrived by mail. Remember how encouraging it was? How you were touched by such a thoughtful gesture? We underestimate the lasting impact of such simple gestures. The apostle, Paul, never imagined that his letters to the various churches with whom he had a relationship would soon be deemed sacred canon and become an inspiration to the forthcoming generations of the church. And this he did while imprisoned; bound by chains.
Yes, we are all busy; chained down by a multitude of other things that must be done. Yet, the quickest route to being set free from the grind of the mundane is to step outside of ourselves and to do something for another; something unexpected.
“Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me’” (Mark 10:48)!
Hope will not be silent. Hope will not rest. Hope is not bound by limitations of time or circumstances. Hope is faith waiting for the rest of the story to be written. Though blind, the hope of Bartimaeus allowed him to see other possibilities for his life. Hope is our continuing insistence that things will be different.
“Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do’” (Exodus 24:3).
The expectation of those having known the grace of God’s call is they will live as an obedient people. Not that we find God’s favor because we have lived moral lives but, rather, because we have known his favor the more diligently we pursue a moral life. While those who say, “I’m no longer under the Law, but grace” think they are espousing some sort of advanced spiritual maturity, the reality is God’s grace imposes upon us more responsibility and a greater diligence for faithful living than the Law ever could.