Archive for June, 2017
“Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him” (Acts 8:35)
The faith we have received isn’t only to be held and lived out, but it must also be spoken of and shared. To only live our faith and never speak of it says too much about us and too little about the gospel.
“Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, ‘All these thing I will give You, if You fall down and worship me’” (Matthew 4:8-9)
From the wilderness, to the temple, to the top of the mountain, the work of the devil pursues an upward gradient scale; from the sensual, to the spiritual, to the egotistical. Ego falls into the trap of thinking you are the exception; that you are not like everyone else; that you are above the vulnerabilities that bring down others; that you will not be corrupted by the power and the glories of this world. We are all going to worship something; it’s our nature. Just make sure you don’t worship yourself—the most deceptive devil of all.
“Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple” (Matthew 4:5).
While we expect temptation to confront our points of weakness, we may be surprised to discover that the evil one will also challenge what we believe to be our strongholds. This temptation of Jesus is filled with holy things — a holy city, a holy temple, and even God’s holy word (vs.6 and the devil’s quoting of Psalm 91). It’s a reminder that the work of the devil isn’t limited to the secular, but can also be found in the spiritual. What is perceived as a greatest strength can easily become one’s greatest vulnerability. It requires of us the humility to acknowledge both.
“And the tempter came and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread’” (Matthew 4:3).
To the point of being almost cliche, it is no surprise that when tempted the tempter attacks first at our point of weakness — our appetites, desires, the flesh. The response of Jesus, that man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (v.4), is a sustaining reminder that such superficial longings are but an inadequate substitute for the eternal, transcendent longings of our heart; that God alone can satisfy.
“A stranger they simply will not follow but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers” (John 10:5).
Why must the church be the presence of Christ outside the walls of our sanctuaries? Because people will not listen to a stranger. Why must we intentionally find venues in our community to engage and be the presence of Christ? Because people will not listen to a stranger. While gather we may in buildings to worship the Christ, we must leave the buildings to do his work. Why? Because people will not listen to a stranger. Ours is the business of being a presence.
“Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’” (John 21:19).
The admonition of Jesus is even more pointed in verse 22, “You follow Me!” Instead of being distracted by the multitude of things and people that surround us, Jesus offers to Peter, and to us, what is to be the focal point and waking motivation of each day. Though daunting the task may be, it actually simplifies life and rescues it from the meaningless pursuit of trying satisfy the court of public opinion. The most successful in following Him are those who have come to value His objective final judgment over the subjective favorable applause of men.
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).
We often hear that worship is a matter of the heart. Indeed, it is. But if worship truly emerges from the heart, it is evident in the total expression of our lives. How straight we walk in obedience speaks more of our worship than how high we jump or how far our hands reach into the air.
“And when she (Lydia) and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.’ And she prevailed upon us” (Acts 16:15).
The significance of baptism should never be diminished to being “just” a symbolic act. It is, in fact, a counter-cultural action; a statement of opposition against the forces that seek to destroy the image of the God in humankind; a total immersion into a life of God-honoring obedience.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do no wish to go” (John 21:18).
The call and commissioning to the life of faith is accompanied by the realization that this now becomes the very thing we will die doing. Life has now become a living sacrifice — living for Christ; dying for Christ. The life we have been given is no longer our own; it is lived for the benefit of others. He calls us to service that we might have a reason to live. And the only life worth living is the one having discovered the One thing for which it is worth dying.
“He said to him again, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Shepherd My sheep’” (John 21:16).
Whether it’s beating ourselves up over past failures or thinking more of ourselves than we ought because of worldly successes, Satan has a unique way of keeping us preoccupied with ourselves. The only remedy for getting over one’s self is a life committed to the service of others. Tending to and feeding those closest to the heart of Jesus — the broken, the marginalized, the disenfranchised – and being an advocate for those that have no voice is the most telling outward expression of our love for Christ.