Archive for September, 2016
“But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better” (Philippians 1:23).
Our continual pangs of longing, that no earthly experience is able to satisfy, are a compelling indicator that we are designed for something that transcends this life. This very idea serves as the basis for one of C.S. Lewis’ most weighty philosophical arguments for the eternal – Argument By Desire. God has set this desire within us as a reminder that the momentary things of this earth, while seemingly important, will soon fade away; that our hope should be set on him, and our best energies spent on things that will last forever.
“But in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15).
Every earthly movement – political, economic, social, or militaristic – is birthed and exists in contradiction to the truth. These are but mere imitations that seek to indoctrinate and give the illusion of security and well-being. It is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ alone that has been entrusted with the message of an absolute truth that is good news for all people in all places. The Lord’s gospel message unites, achieves peace, offers hope, and brings justice. The falsehood of every other message and ideology is evident in the division, war, despair, and injustice it creates.
“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
The ending makes or breaks a story. Such is life. God has written a good ending to the story of his people and their faith journey. The pages we are now contributing to this work, both the celebratory and the painful, are but the introduction to the richer, fuller, and more comprehensive story that begins with eternity. Therefore, we must reframe our lives in the light of God’s eternal perspective. That the Lord is coming quickly isn’t the beginning of the end, but rather, the end of the beginning.
“Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4).
Our heavenly Father is a model of consistency. What was true of him in days of old is nonetheless true today. The emphasis of the psalmist is that in the face of life’s challenges, our persistence is never in vain. The Lord knows our comings and goings and guards both our days and nights. He sees our end even when circumstances have blinded our path. Therefore, keep walking by faith and not by sight.
“For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:5).
In figuring out “who they are,” many fall victim to the opinions of others or the circumstances in which they find themselves. For those who are in Christ, however, our identity is established once and for all. Our quest is not one of figuring out who we are but being who we are. The resurrection life is the very essence of our being.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matthew 24:36).
For 2000 years there has been much speculation regarding the return of our Lord. The graveyard of history is filled with the gravestones of skywatchers and doomsayers. All we really know about this anticipated event is that it is veiled in secrecy; known only by the Father. Our responsibility, between now and then, is to be diligent in living our lives faithfully for Him. The best preparation for the coming of the Lord isn’t a calculator for guessing but a cross for carrying.
“The Lord looked at Gideon and said, ‘Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?’ He said to Him, ‘O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house’” (Judges 6:14-15).
What is required of those that God would use in his service? Fortunately for us, he is not searching for those who are perfect, but rather, those who are doing what they can with what they have; the one aware of their own inadequacies; one possessing a healthy reverence toward God; one who fears God more than they fear others, determined to live life in obedience to the Father. Could it be you? It’s not the obstacles in front of us that block our way, but the excuses within us that hold us back.
“Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all” (Luke 18:17).
The obvious qualities of a child are innocence, trust, dependence, and loyalty. There are other implications, however. For example, there is the expectation that a child is going to grow up and mature. Just as any parent would be concerned about the stunted growth of a child, our heavenly Father is no less concerned when any of his children are not showing signs of growth, or worse still, when there is a digression in spiritual health. While doctors recommend an annual physical exam to monitor a patient’s well-being, the Great Physician would have us examine our spiritual health, in the light of God’s word, on a daily basis.
“Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1).
Whether it’s children watching their parents, music students watching their instructors, young athletes watching professionals, or an apprentice observing a craftsman, we learn much of what we know through imitation. As followers of Christ, we are called to the highest standard of imitation — the imitation of our Heavenly Father. While we cannot be omnipotent, omniscient, nor omnipresent, we can be “kind, tender-hearted, forgiving one another just as God in Christ also has forgiven us” (Ephesians 4:32).
“So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’” (John 20:19).
Hiding for fear of an entire people group seems a bit of a stretch. Out of an estimated forty to fifty thousand Jews populating Jerusalem early in the first century, only the High Priest, Caiaphas, and his power-holding band of leaders had any vested interest in this spineless little band of Jesus-followers. John, however, is being honest enough to share their overblown fear. Such is the nature of paranoia. We see it even today. Though research indicates that only 5-10 percent of any world religion, including Christianity, has a radicalized element of followers, paranoia leads us to believe that the threat is pervasive when, in fact, it is isolated. Either way, it is better to die in the path of service than to sit in our sanctuaries afraid.