Archive for August, 2016
“I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15).
The Father’s providential care of his children isn’t a license to live carelessly. There are consequences to our choices, and being a believer doesn’t mean the laws of nature are interrupted for our protection. For instance, no matter how fervently you might pray to do well on a test, if you have not studied, guess what is going to happen. You will flunk the test. No amount of prayer is going to override one’s lack of preparation. It’s only when we seek to walk in obedience that we find the assurance and confidence of God’s protection and provision. He will never leave us as orphans (John 14:18).
“Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. However…’” (2 Samuel 12:13-14).
There is a tremendous difference between the forgiveness of sin and the consequence of sin. We would like to see forgiveness and consequence united as one. We want to believe that if the Lord puts our sin behind us, then no consequences lie before us. Such is not the case, however. It was not so for David, nor is it for us. David was forgiven, but there were consequences. The good news of the Gospel is that our sins are forgiven. The bad news of “however” is that sin entertains consequences that cannot be undone.
“Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to Your lovingkindness remember me, for Your goodness’ sake, O Lord” (Psalms 25:7)
Unlike the lovingkindness of our heavenly Father, our tendency is to freeze people in time. We stick a label on them and remember them on the basis of a wrong committed, the error made, the lapse in judgement, the rebellious lifestyle; offering no forgiveness on our part, nor the opportunity for growth, maturity, or experience on theirs. Fortunately, God’s mercy thaws the error of our ways and builds our future on the basis of his redeeming grace and not our disappointing past. While others might give you the big chill, God’s love never will.
“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another, for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8).
We are at our best when we default to love; to be loving toward everyone. If we spend all of our energy judging and contemplating whether someone is deserving of love, will they receive and respond in love, or will they misconstrue my love as an endorsement of their lifestyle, the result is that we end up loving no one outside the circle of those like us. That same negative energy could be spent on a positive loving action. In a world full of religions preoccupied with “do’s and dont’s,” it’s refreshing to have a faith that teaches this — be loving. Everything else that needs to be sorted out can be left to the all-knowing wisdom of our Heavenly Father.
“Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13).
Paul recognized in the gospel that he had received something of such import that its integrity must not only be preserved, but it must be passed on to others. We cannot hoard our faith like a precious memory. Faith isn’t a lifeless entity intended for mausoleum like sanctuaries, but rather, faith is a dynamic force designed for multiplication in the generations following. The sound words of the gospel must be both retained and proclaimed in our lives.
“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8).
The question of whether the suffering referenced is because of the gospel or for the benefit of the gospel need not be reduced to an either/or proposition. Depending upon the context of one’s circumstances, it can be both/and. Either way, our reaction to adversity and the challenges of life is a shining moment for faith to reveal itself and make itself known to an ever-watching world.
“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).
The investment that others have made into our lives offers the needed inspiration to rise above human fear and boldly assert the qualities of faith upon which legacies are built. As Paul utilized the memory of Timothy’s mother and grandmother as a means of motivating him, we, too, must recall those individuals strategically placed in our lives by God to launch us forward into the possibilities of where faith longs to take us.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The mathematics of the gospel are atrocious — it simply doesn’t add up. The gift of eternal life, a life that offers meaning and purpose for today when entered into, is just that — a gift. It cannot be earned. You cannot work for it. Nor can we ever get ourselves into a position of deserving it. It’s God’s way of keeping it about him and never about us. It simply doesn’t add up. Thank goodness.
“And the Lord said to me, ‘Enough! Speak to Me no more of this matter. Go up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes to the west and north and south and east, and see it with your eyes, for you shall not cross over this Jordan’” (Deuteronomy 3:26-27).
For forty years Moses lived with the anticipation of entering the Land of Promise. Can you imagine his disappointment at being denied the opportunity to enter therein? Of course, we have all known disappointment. It’s a universal experience. Something or someone has disappointed you. The more important question, however, is one of response. We can strike out in bitterness, resentment, and anger. We can give up and just throw our hands up in exasperation. Or, we can move on in faith; believing that God uses all circumstances to accomplish his ultimate purposes.
Moses’ disappointment didn’t cause him to lose faith in God or hope in his future. He died in peace on Mt. Nebo, trusting in the eternal purposes of God. How will you respond?
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Consider your ways’” (Haggai 1:7).
When bombarded by the exponential choices and decisions that each day presents, thinking sequentially may well be our greatest challenge. That is, the ability to think through our choices, as best is possible, to determine the likely outcomes. While projecting future outcomes is never a fail-safe endeavor, what can be determined in the moment with 100% accuracy is the pros and cons of any decision. Does it enhance my walk with the Lord and the influence of my testimony? Will this portray my faith in a positive or negative light? Does this add to or take from my faith journey? Random living brings random results, while thoughtful living brings the greatest likelihood of producing a desired end. Think about it!