Archive for January, 2017
“Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God” (Colossians 1:25).
What Paul describes is the calling and responsibility we have collectively taken on as the people of God. To be stewards means we are but the managers of what has been entrusted to us for the task of serving others. It is a commissioning that transforms us from a “selfie” motivated people to a people selflessly inspired; that delivers us from a meaningless, self-absorbed existence and offers us an enriched life of meaning and purpose, focused on the well-being of others. The pursuit of Christ’s call is of benefit to everyone around us.
“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” (Colossians 1:24).
While the world rejoices over wealth, health, and prosperity, those who are devoted followers of Jesus Christ have such a unique perspective on the life they are called to live that they are able to rejoice in their sufferings. Not that the sufferings of Christ were insufficient in the accomplishment of God’s redemptive purposes, but our suffering for Christ is an affirmation of our participation in his future glory (Romans 8:18). Suffering is not an affront to our faith but an affirmation. That the Head suffered should prepare his body, the church, for any of the sufferings we might experience.
“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time…” (Jonah 3:1).
One of life’s observations is when you choose to disobey the will of God, the devil will always provide a means of transportation. Such was the case with Jonah. Directed by the word of the Lord to take a certain course, Jonah chose to go another. Fortunately, for him, and for us, we see and experience time and time again that God is a God of second chances.
“The word of the Lord came to Jonah…” (Jonah 1:1).
If we have studied and immersed ourselves in the study of God’s word, we soon recognize how the word of the Lord can come to us in a variety of ways — life experiences, walking with others through their suffering, a sermon, a Sunday School lesson. These are some of the ways God reveals himself and makes his will known to us. When His word comes to you, will you listen? Greater still, will you obey?
“Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the Lord will stand” (Proverbs 19:21).
Perhaps this proverb inspired Bernard of Clairvaux to write, “Hell is full of good wishes or desires.” Ordinarily, this is expressed as, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Wanting to, going to, and planning to is best fulfilled by a vibrant and sacrificial faith that passionately seeks to glorify the Lord in every pursuit. The masses exist going through the motions while the faithful live the day with intentionality.
“Pilate came out again and said to them, ‘Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him’” (John 19:4).
Three times in the span of nine verses (John 18:38-19:6), Pilate affirms the innocence of Jesus. There is something about the presence of Jesus, and the proclamation of his gospel message, that elicits a response and beckons us to render a verdict regarding our relationship to him. His desire is not that we answer with compassion, sympathy, or pity, but rather, with the declaration, “Jesus is Lord.” Judiciously, Pilate had a right opinion of Jesus, but introspectively, he made the wrong response. Opinions don’t matter. There is only one appropriate response — Jesus is Lord.
“You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37).
Truth is a significant theme for John; referenced some 25 times in his gospel account. Truth is not an abstract, philosophical idea, but rather, it is to be understood as something objective, pursuable, and thus, knowable. It is the true knowledge of God, pointing to an absolute reality that transcends the false realities of temporal life. The earthly kingdoms that the masses persist in chasing, seek to build and exploit, and ascribe such great importance, will all fade into insignificance and meaninglessness when swallowed up by God’s eternal kingdom.
“Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth’” (John 18:38)?
Given the context, Pilate’s dismissive tone sounds cynical. Today, a postmodern culture would argue that truth is relative; that there is no absolute that holds true for all people in all places for all time. I’m convinced, because of its philosophical inconsistency, that postmodernity as a worldview is more myth than fact. We do not argue for relativism in matters of science, technology, engineering, and math; only in matters of faith. Arguing that truth is relative negates the very idea of truth. Truth, by its very nature, cannot be many things; it must be one thing. Faith embraces the reality that the Lord our God is the God of truth (Ps. 31:5).
“Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, ‘Are You the King of the Jews’” (John 18:33)?
The high priest, Caiaphas, was the one that brought Jesus to the attention of Pilate. The former was seeking to preserve his religious kingdom and the latter his political kingdom. Personal kingdoms such as these become powerful strongholds. Because they are built upon the false realities of power, position, prestige, and influence, the absolute truth of God’s reality is always a threat. It is the proclamation of truth that got the prophets stoned and Jesus crucified. We either hunger for the truth, or we become the one casting the stone at the truth-teller.
“Most men will proclaim everyone his own goodness: but who can find a faithful man” (Proverbs 20:6)?
Ever wondered why God’s redemptive purposes are based on faith rather than works? If based upon our own personal goodness, we would soon become proud and arrogant. Also, a salvation that comes by grace through faith eliminates the confusion, despair, and uncertainty that would naturally arise were it to be based upon our own efforts. That is, if we were saved by being good, how good would we have to be? What would the standard be? Thank goodness, we need only trust in the work of God accomplished in his Son, Jesus Christ.