Archive for June, 2017

THE HIGHEST STANDARD

“Then he said to Him, ‘Which ones?’” (Matthew 19:18).

As believers, saved by grace through faith, do not find off-putting Jesus’ instructions to the rich young ruler to keep the commandments (v.17) if he wishes to enter into life. While the law made us keenly aware of the need for a Savior, the heart of faith desires nonetheless to honor the teachings of God’s word. Of greater alarm is the question of the young man and his desire to settle for the least common denominator. It’s not unlike the student asking, “Is this going to be on the test?” To live under the banner of Christ’ Lordship is to set the bar to a place of greatest heights in all things, not some things.

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A LIFETIME PURSUIT

“And He said to him, ‘Why are asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments’” (Matthew 19:17).

To the question of the rich young ruler, “What good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life? (v.16),” Jesus offers a significant corrective understanding. First, he speaks of life rather than eternal life because the only true life is eternal life. Apart from this true life is only death. Secondly, rather than just another thing to be obtained and added to our possessions, this life is something to be entered into. It is a road to be traveled; not a commodity to be purchased. Because God alone is good, the pursuit of our life becomes that which is pleasing to him.

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OPPORTUNITIES

“Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away” (Matthew 25:28-29).

Countless opportunities present themselves each day to be the presence of Christ; each one unique and never to be again. We often excuse our inaction by rationalizing that we will wait for another time; a more appropriate time, only to discover this was the only time we had. Our Father isn’t interested in what we might do if given certain opportunities, but what we do with the specific opportunities that cross our path each day. We worry much about doing the right thing only to discover that doing nothing is the greater indictment.

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DEALING WITH SINNERS

“Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you? She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more’” (John 8:10-11).

Confronted by the egregious sin of others, we can respond like Moses and condemn the sinner to punishment. We can do as the Pharisees—exposing the sinner; to embarrass them publicly. Or, we can respond as did Jesus; with compassion, consistency; candidness. His mercy is seen in addressing the accused as “woman;” the same term of respect used in addressing his own mother. The consistency of his forgiveness is found here and throughout the gospels. His candidness is seen in the charge to sin no more. He called it what it was and moved on. So should you.

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REDEFINING GOOD

“And He said to him, ‘Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good…’” (Matthew 19:17).

While quick to describe any number of individuals, things, or activities as good, Jesus’ words force us to rethink and reserve such estimations for the One who alone is good. Regarding the rich young ruler’s question of eternal life, the Goodness that produces salvation lies outside of us and does not emerge from within. The necessary starting place for discovering this life is the acknowledgement, “I have no good besides You” (Psalm 16:2).

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INDICTING GRAMMAR

“And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16)

While no better question could be asked, his grammar reveals a common misconception—that salvation and eternal life is something of his doing. The verb “obtain” reflects the attitude that salvation is just something else to be acquired and added to the pile of “things” we accumulate in life. That his confidence is in his own capacity, and that he views himself as the subject of salvation, is evident in the twice used personal pronoun “I.” His misguided thinking is everyone has a price…maybe even God. The Good News is that the price has been paid.

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ENDURANCE NOT PARTICIPATION

“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

Unlike the meaningless participation trophies awarded to children today for just showing up, the crown of life is the highest recognition for the people of God, rewarding their faithful perseverance through times of trial and unwavering love for the Lord. In fact, this love is the catalyst for those who endure. It is a perspective towards life that looks past the circumstances of moment and envisions providential purposes yet to be seen.

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PRIVILEGES DENIED

“and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away” (James 1:10).

Wealth is relative. For anyone within the U.S., the moment you step foot into a third world country, you are, by any standard of measure, rich. The danger of wealth is that it breeds arrogance, an air of superiority, an advantage deserving of special treatment. Yet, even for the affluent and the privileged, this humbling statistic remains the same—one out of one will die.

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A LEG UP

06122017 Monday

“But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position” (James 1:9).

Instead of offering sympathy and pity regarding their plight, James, instead, acknowledges the advantageous position of the poor in the providential purposes of God. While the up and in tend to arrogantly look down on others, those humbled and beaten down by life are the most likely to look upward and faithfully cling to trust, hope, and the provision of God. It’s a good reminder that if we are not intentionally humbling ourselves, life certainly will.

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JESUS ALONE

06112017 Sunday

“Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life’” (John 6:68).

While moral and ethical codes can be found within the tenets of every world religion, the hope that any of these faith expressions might have offered were buried with the death of their founder. The uniqueness of the Christian faith is to be found in the resurrection of Jesus. It is Jesus alone, standing victorious over the grave, who holds eternal truth in his hand.

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