Archive for March, 2016
“No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again” (John 10:18).
Playing the blame game for the death of Jesus is a fruitless misadventure. It was not the fault of the Jews, Caiaphas, Pilate, Herod, the Roman soldiers, and not even Judas. They were but the personalities and moving parts of a much larger narrative — the unfolding story of God’s redeeming love. The profoundness of Jesus’ death is not fully appreciated until it is realized that he laid down his own life. It was not taken from him, but he gave his life that we might find ours.
“On the day I called, you answered me; you made me bold with strength in my soul” (Psalm 138:3).
I don’t remember the calendar day, but I remember THAT day as if it were yesterday. It was transforming, life-changing, fortifying, fulfilling, enriching, and deepening — a day that cannot be fully described. THAT day I made my appeal to God. On THAT day God answered and my soul was renewed and strengthened. There are some days in life when you need to remember THAT day. THAT day may be the very thing that gets you through this day.
“As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects man” (Proverbs 27:19).
How much of life is wasted in trying to shape others’ opinions of us. Despite such efforts, each glance into the mirror reminds us of who we really are. Your reputation is what others think about you. Character is what you know to be true about yourself. The man in the mirror never lies.
“And He said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down’” (Matthew 24:2).
The words of Jesus to his followers regarding the Temple serve as a warning to present day disciples to beware of any theology seeking to rebuild a temple based religion with ruins from the past. The ultimate destruction of the Temple was but a validation that the old covenant was just that…old. We are advocates of the new covenant, written upon the hearts of men, and lived out by faith in the Spirit of grace and truth.
“You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion” (Matthew 26:2).
Not even the cross looming before him could subdue the celebratory spirit of the Passover feast. In fact, what his death and resurrection would subsequently bring about for the church was a meal of another kind; an incarnational communion; a celebration of deliverance from the enslavement of a religion housed in a temple and the stranglehold of the Law. A living and resurrected Christ seeks to replace religious scowls with joyful expressions of hope.
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Luke 21:33).
The forms, systems, and structures with which we are familiar, and the nature of things as we see them, are a far cry from what God desires for humankind. This is why they are passing away; to give way to something else. Our failure to recognize this is evidenced by the insatiable desire of the masses to acquire more and more, and the extreme sense of hopelessness and grief experienced when the things of this world are lost. For hope to truly capture our lives then it must be wrenched away from this current existence; that we might gaze deeper and more imaginatively into the richness of God’s creative possibilities.
“And when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me’” (1 Corinthians 11:24).
Jesus’ charge to remember isn’t a static recall of some particular day frozen in history. It is a remembering of God’s past faithfulness that beckons us to go forth fearlessly into an unknown future. This kind of dynamic remembrance inspires us to live faithfully in the present.
“And He said to them, ‘Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you’” (Matthew 17:20).
Jesus’ words are a proverbial reminder of faith’s approach to overcoming great difficulty and the possibility of uprooting that which appears permanently rooted. It is a contrast to the eyes of natural man; that look at the size and strength of that which stands before them, and then decides if anything can be done. Faith doesn’t measure. It sees only possibilities. Faith has expectations that transcend circumstances.
“Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
I enjoy reading books written by those with whom I disagree. I find little benefit in books that leave me nodding in agreement; confirming my own beliefs and ideologies with every turn of the page. I have realized a greater benefit from those authors with whom I differ. They stretch my imagination, broaden my perspective, and keep me on my toes. As iron against iron produces a sharp edge, such is the benefit we receive from every person that God brings across our path each day.
“Like the legs which are useless to the lame, so is a proverb in the mouth of fools” (Proverbs 26:7)
To understand the difference between the books of Psalms and Proverbs, a simple approach is that the Psalms speak to the vertical dimension of our relationship with God, while Proverbs highlight the practical, horizontal dimension of our faith as it is lived out among others. However, a Proverb, like any other portion of scripture that is known but not practiced, is as ineffective as the legs of a person paralyzed. Reading a proverb a day will take you through the month. Read it through, but walk it out.