Archive for April, 2016
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
This summation of the Gospel reminds us that the Good News casts everything in a different light. All of our fears, anxieties, uncertainties, and negative emotions have been transformed into positive assurances. Could anything possibly be more important?
“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).
It’s not just Judas. Each of us is tempted by fear to run, betray, abandon, and join the crowd for the sake of self-preservation. Temptation sees only the opportunity of the moment and is blind to the ripple of long term consequences. Prayer provides the grace and alertness necessary to posture ourselves for victory; to make the right choices, at the right time, regardless of the circumstances.
“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Joshua 1:8).
For both then and now, God’s word is the guide for directing our paths. Only by continual meditation upon the scriptures can we give the diligence necessary to carefully apply it to every facet of our lives. By so doing, we are able to discover a status of well-being that reaches beyond the shallowness of material possessions, bank accounts, and positions that the present world points to as indicators of prosperity and success.
“Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them” (Joshua 1:6).
The promises of God from the past are always in regard to the future that awaits his people. His assurances are not a harkening back to days of old; that the things we prefer will some day return. Hope clings to Divine promises for it is these that sustain us as we venture into a future that God is even now redeeming.
“Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying…” (Joshua 1:1).
From the beginning, God has utilized human instrumentality to lead the community of faith in the way they should go and the work that is to be accomplished. Even so, he is not dependent upon any one person or personality for the continuation of his missional purposes. A long-suffering, persistent, and enduring faith is best evidenced in the life of those whose faithful service is dependent upon not the presence or absence of any one person, but rather, the One who has called us to walk steadfastly and serve faithfully in a world of ever-changing circumstances.
“Therefore it was also credited to him as righteousness. Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead” (Romans 4:22-24).
The ultimate benefit to be received in Christ Jesus is to stand before God — accepted by Him. Within ourselves nothing can be found that is able to withstand his judgement. Our past guilt, present shame, and future culpability bring only condemnation. By faith in Christ Jesus, however, the impossible becomes possible — right standing before the Father.
“forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13).
The challenge each day is to never settle for what or where we are; always reaching for the possibilities that the Lord sets before us; never settling for past accomplishments and victories. When our memories become more numerous than our dreams, we have stopped living. The God who is making all things new will never bring back the good old days. What he promises is better new days.
“Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
There is no more haunting phrase than “What might have been.” It has to do with unrealized potential. What’s holding you back today? What is encumbering your progress — A relationship? A habit? Something that’s not necessarily wrong, but is impeding your development? Or, perhaps, it is a known sin that continues to entangle you. The journey of faith is a race of endurance. Exercise your faith and sweat out your encumbrances and entanglements.
“Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb” (Romans 4:19).
Faith has never required a denial of the hard facts; that we must stick our head in the sand and pretend our problems are not real. Abraham contemplated his own physical condition, as well as his wife’s, and acknowledged their frailties. Even so, his faith gave greater weight to the promises of God than the limitations of this life.
“In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, ‘So shall your descendants be’” (Romans 4:18).
What is more telling than a confession of faith is whether or not that faith is producing a hope evident in one’s views and perspectives on the future. Listen to the conversational musings or read the social media posts of professing Christian’s, and you discover that, for many, their true hope is in the next election, the next Supreme Court appointment, the stock market, or any other measuring device they have deemed critical to the sustainment of the life they have built, desire to keep, and not lose. Paul’s reference to the father of faith, Abraham, points us to a hope that stands in defiance to any human calculation. Our hope is not conditioned by present tense problems but clings to the yet unrealized promises of God.