Archive for May, 2016
“But they will say, ‘It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart’” (Jeremiah 18:12).
While no sin is beyond the redeeming scope of God’s grace, the one thing his mercies can never overcome is an unwilling human spirit. The free-will of humankind is itself a product of God’s grace. Thus, when man intentionally chooses a path that leads to his own destruction, God will always honor that choice. The gospel of Jesus Christ is truly compelling but never coercive.
“Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel” (Jeremiah 18:6).
God has a history of shaping the lives of his people for a greater purpose. For this to be realized, it is necessary that the thinking, attitudes, and practices of the secular age be kneaded out of our lives. It is within the matrix of our brokenness, life’s hardships, and the never-ending grace of the Heavenly Potter that his providential intentions are accomplished.
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men” (Colossians 3:23).
Punching the clock at work is hardly the time to punch one’s faith. The workplace is the very place faith should be lived out. It’s within such an arena that Christ expects us to be moral examples, exemplary employees, and positive ambassadors of the living Christ. Christianity was never meant to be portrayed in clerical collars and choir robes. It is best dressed in blue jeans and coveralls; prepared for the functioning routines of every day life.
“And he went out the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place; and to those he said, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ And so they went” (Matthew 20:3-4).
As the story continues, those who were once without employment — “standing idle in the market place” — would eventually come to complain against the employer for what they perceived as unfair pay practices. They failed to remember what it was like to be without a job. How much more meaningful becomes our place of vocational expression when undergirded by a mind-set of gratitude instead of grumbling.
“Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies (Romans 8:33).
What a wonderful word of assurance to a people for whom faith has brought the threat of death and persecution — to know that you are God’s elect. In such conditions one may be tempted to give up; renounce; compromise, but Paul’s designation for the people of God is just the encouragement needed to persevere; to hang in there; to accept that to be counted among the company of the suffering isn’t a defeat but a victorious association with a suffering Savior.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us” (Romans 8:31)?
Paul is not raising a question; he is putting forth a foundational presupposition — God is for you. That God is for us means that no adversary is of any account. Whether seen or unseen, no enemies will prevail over us. Because he is for us, we must not continue in the path of thinking the worst of ourselves.
“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things” (Romans 8:32)?
On the subject of God’s love and the impossibility of anything separating us from that love, Paul’s argument is from the greater to the lesser. If God has accomplished for us the greatest good conceivable, the giving over of his own son, then will not all other blessings naturally follow? Since God has made the ultimate sacrifice, why would he not bring to fruition in the end everything he originally intended? His ROI (Return On Investment) is guaranteed.
“What use is it my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him” (James 2:14)
Scripture has a way of comforting the afflicted while at the same time afflicting the comfortable. While comfort food is enjoyable, if that’s the entirety of one’s diet, you soon will become fat, lazy, and lethargic. Strange isn’t it? That the best food for physical wellness is the food that rarely tastes the best to our palate? In the same way, the best scriptural food for spiritual wellness isn’t a steady diet of comforting assurances and promises. Those being settled once and for all, we must move on to the portions of God’s word that confront our present lives and challenge us in the disciplined pursuit of Christlikeness.
“Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work’” (John 4:34).
What fills and satisfies our deepest longings is the life of faith and the never-ending pursuit of seeing the work of the Father being expressed and accomplished in human lives. Everything else is but a poor substitute for what really matters. While carbs are tempting, the will of God is the protein of the soul. It is the means by which we build spiritual muscle.
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).
It’s easy to be psyched out by the yoke of everyday life, burnout, and the sense that the very best of your time, energy, and resources is being spent on meaningless pursuits. Deliverance is to be found in another yoke; a yoke of service; a yoke that considers all tasks and pursuits as a service to Christ. It’s as we actively give ourselves to Him that we find rest for our souls (from the Greek “psyche”). Peace of mind is discovered when we start doing that for which we were designed.