Archive for April, 2017
“You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:1-2).
As followers of Jesus, we are expected to be multipliers of the faith. Four generations of believers are represented in today’s focal passage. Paul is writing to Timothy, a young man he has brought to faith in Christ. Timothy is challenged to invest his life and faith into others who, likewise, will reach out to those who cross their life’s path. To receive the faith is a privilege; to transmit the faith is a responsibility.
“Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
Too often our sense of joy is determined by the successes or failures of the moment. As excited as the disciples were that the demons were subject to them, Jesus offers the reminder that this is but a present tense moment. A more enduring joy is to be found not in the success of right now, but the security that is ours for all eternity; not in what is but what is to come.
“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you — unless indeed you fail the test” (2 Corinthians 13:5)?
The most difficult examination to be faced isn’t in an academic setting, but rather, it is the self-examination of one’s own life and faith. What drives you? Some explain away their reckless and careless lifestyles to peer pressure. It’s a victim’s mentality. The disciples of Jesus do not have peer pressure, we create peer pressure. We are not a cowering down, defensive stronghold. We are a bold and principled army; infiltrating our world as an offensive movement. Spiritual maturity recognizes that the life of faith isn’t just a response to the offering of God’s grace, but it embraces also the responsibilities of obedience, influence, and accountability.
“Nevertheless the righteous will hold to his way, and he who has clean hands will grow stronger and stronger” (Job 17:9).
The life of faith is a forward call offering little, if any, latitude for the energy draining, time wasting, production killing emotions of sentiment and nostalgia. Conversations about the past, and the way things use to be, offer a sense of security to the one lamenting only because it is familiar ground that has already plowed; a path that has been experienced and survived. While a retro-view of life seems to offer a womb of security and familiarity, it is but a tomb for those called to walk by faith into a capricious and uncertain future. Speak a language of hope and confidence in the One who said, “Behold I am making all things new.”
“Examine me, O Lord, and try me; test my mind and heart” (Psalm 26:2).
Ego will not allow you to earnestly pray this prayer. While most err in thinking themselves a good judge of others, none of us do well in judging and evaluating ourselves. Our ego-centric existence blinds us to the greater realities that exist; that others are not the blame for our malady; that we are the virus of our own sickness. Ego is the featherbed offering comfort to the soul that refuses to grow, mature, and be transformed.
“So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, ‘It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for your to carry your pallet’” (John 5:10).
Sick religion preoccupies itself with rules and regulations, rituals and familiar customs, at the expense of human need and the advancement of the Kingdom. That the religious establishment was more concerned about the weight of a pallet than the weight of God acting miraculously in the life of one lame 38 years indicates how sick their religion had become. A dynamic faith that allows God to work outside our familiar processes and personal preferences is to be desired over a static religion that exists with no expectation of renewal.
“Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, pick up your pallet and walk’” (John 5:8).
While salvation is certainly the product of God’s grace, nonetheless, by its very nature the life of faith engenders a sense of responsibility. What was true of the lame man miraculously made well is no less true of the church. Padded pews can easily become the pallet upon which we sit and watch the world go by. We, too, must get up, pick up, and walk out of our sanctuary if we are to truly discover the wellness and life of missional service God would desire for us.
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Would you be surprised to discover that Jesus was a man whose life was filled with joy? He was a man of deep convictions and delightful disposition. His influence is revealed with every turned page of the gospels. The masses flocked to him; children loved him; sinners found an audience with him. He lifted the spirits of the broken-hearted. His presence was infectious and transforming. He really knew how to light up a room.
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience…” (Colossians 3:12).
If our witness is effective in drawing others to Christ, it will not be the result of our theological convictions. Those influenced are more likely to point to our compassion and personal interest. Unwavering convictions regarding our beliefs are necessary, but with them must be the qualities reflecting the concern of a compassionate heart.
“You have ordained Your precepts, that we should keep them diligently” (Psalm 119:4).
Legendary coaching great John Wooden, of UCLA basketball fame, never scouted the opposition. He informed his players that if the designed plays were properly executed, we will win the game. It seems that many in the life of faith are more preoccupied with the enemy, his power, tactics, and methodology than they are the execution of God’s word in our daily lives. A life empowered by the Spirit, committed to the execution of God’s word, cannot be defeated. Live victoriously.