Archive for March, 2017
“And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury…” (Mark 12:41).
One area you may not like Jesus is when it comes to giving. By our giving, he makes judgments about our lives, priorities, and whether or not we are arranging our lives to honor him. It’s a haunting reality that the true love of our life, and the object of our affection, is proved out not by the confession of our lips but the ledger of our checkbook and the receipts from our credit cards.
“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).
There is certain mindset that drives us each day; that compels us in the pursuit of the life we desire. The higher we set the bar and the loftier our ambitions, the more we are able achieve. For the people of God, the standard before us reaches into a kingdom not of this world. It requires a fixed perspective on life that’s undistracted by the material offerings and empty promises of this present life.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34).
Human nature is to love those who are like us; those with whom we agree and share common opinions. The real challenge is to love the unloved; those who are difficult. Though unnatural, disciples of Jesus draw upon the supernatural resource of God’s Spirit to make it a reality.
“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31).
Being a disciple is much like a marriage. Each begins with an initial commitment and is characterized by a continuing faithfulness and growth in intimacy. The faithfulness of Jesus’ disciples is seen in their continuing in His word. That is, the purpose of continued Bible study is to become so familiar with the teachings of Jesus that we become more like Him. Every reading brings richer understanding.
“Apply your heart to discipline and your ears to words of knowledge” (Proverbs 23:12).
Just as an applied science is a discipline used to apply existing scientific knowledge to develop more practical applications, applied faith is the discipline of applying biblical knowledge to the practice of living life. If we do not discipline ourselves to apply what we know and profess to be true, then all we have accomplished is the gathering of information. Applied knowledge produces a robust faith.
“So your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine” (Proverbs 3:10).
No, this isn’t a proof-text for some popular, westernized, capitalistic, health-wealth-prosperity-gospel. However, it is a promise of God that far exceeds the material and temporal offerings of this world. The question is, “Do you really want more?” Why is that even among those who never speak of God’s blessings, when they experience a financial windfall, say, “What a blessing from God!” To want more is to desire his peace, the assurance of eternal life, the forgiveness of sin, deliverance from guilt, the blessing of participating in his Kingdom’s work. Desire and pursue the eternal, and you will discover a life that is filled and overflowing.
“Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce” (Proverbs 3:9).
For the people of God, the stewardship of our resources is a matter of priority. It is in the forefront of our mind and not an afterthought. It’s an initiative of first importance and cannot be achieved from “leftovers.” We must must never allow the very human tendency to calculate and make excuses deprive us of the greater abundance, reward, and fulfillment our heavenly Father desires for his children. This present world offers so little. Don’t settle. Want more!
“Honor the Lord from your wealth…” (Proverbs 3:9).
The game-changer of stewardship is the realization that it involves the whole of my possessions and not just the part. Only a shortsighted theology and understanding of stewardship would imagine God being interested only in the tithe. The entirety of our lives bear testimony to a higher and greater pursuit; that the most satisfying and fulfilling life is to be found not in getting and consuming, but serving and giving.
“Honor the Lord…” (Proverbs 3:9).
To be a steward is to take into account every facet of one’s life. Stewardship is a holistic view; recognizing that all things come from the bounty of God’s grace, and the inherent responsibility of managing the resources entrusted to us. This is accomplished not by foolishly reacting to the consumer impulses of the moment, but rather, a wisdom that desires to honor the Lord and to serve his greater purposes.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart'” (1 Samuel 16:7).
The shallowness of the day is seen in society’s preoccupation with improving one’s outward appearance. From makeovers, to lifts, to enhancements, to reductions, to implants, to botox, many have pulled and stretched themselves to great lengths and expense for the sake of external appearances, with no corresponding concern for the inner man. I fear it is but a repackaging of the lie told by the evil one in the garden, “Surely, you will not die.” Don’t bite the apple. The reality is that we are going to die no matter how we dress it up. Give greater weight to that which God has deemed most important — the inner man. It’s a matter of the heart.