Archive for November, 2017
“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
Wish you were richer? Taller? Stronger? Faster? The wish list is seemingly endless. Do such things really matter to you? Dollars? Inches? Pounds? Speed? Really???? These are things humankind have deemed important; things by which they can measure one another. If this is your wish, to be esteemed by men, you will never find contentment and self-satisfaction. In God’s eye, whether rich, poor, tall, short, strong, weak, fast, or slow, we are all equal. And in the end, we will all be equally dead. Thus, our days are best spent valuing God’s measurement of our lives because in the end, his is the only opinion that matters.
“That in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Ephesians 4:22-23).
How many hours do you give each day to reading the morning paper, perusing partisan charged editorials online, watching 24-hour news networks, allowing the “shapers of thought” to influence your thinking? Compare that to the amount of time given to the messaging God would have us hear through word, proclamation, and prayer. We can choose to focus on that which distracts, discourages, and upsets or we can turn it off and choose, instead, that which brings peace of mind, a calm spirit, and hope for the future.
“The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil” (Proverbs 16:4).
The Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, wrote, “If you’ve seen the present, you’ve seen all things, from time immemorial into all eternity.” This stoic offering captures the pessimism of a secular perspective on all of history—that it only repeats itself. In contrast to this cyclical view, a Christian understanding of history is linear and, thus, more optimistic. That is, history is moving forward to a destiny that has been purposed by God.
“Then it happened when the Philistine rose and came and drew near to meet David, that David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground” (1 Samuel 17:48-49).
To compete with competence requires not only a knowledge of the enemy’s tactics and tendencies but also a keen sense of self-awareness. In ancient days, warring armies walked to the battle lines and fought in close proximity. For David, however, hand-to-hand combat would have been a losing proposition. Understanding his own God-given-giftedness, David changed the parameters of battle, sprinted to the battle line and slung the stone from a safe distance. It is not necessary to be a volunteer victim in life. Perhaps your giftedness can change the circumstances of the battle you are fighting.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits” (Psalm 103:2).
In matters of employment, we live in a day when the benefits package offered by an employer is as important as a livable wage. In the life of faith, while we must disdain self-serving attitudes that always ask, “What’s in this for me?” There are certainly benefits to be had in following the Lord—He pardons, heals, crowns, and satisfies (Ps. 103:3-5); not to mention the incomparable death benefit and retirement plan.
“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1).
If mumbo jumbo is defined as “language or ritual that causes confusion” then why do some hold so arrogantly to the expression of a verbal gift that so few understand to the exclusion of the language of love that is understood by all? The loudest statement we can make about our Lord is when we live in the Spirit of his love.
“‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless” (Matthew 22:12).
Wedding garments are a metaphor of a life transformed by faith and the redeeming mercies of God. It’s a reminder that the journey of faith doesn’t end with an intellectual belief in the truth of the Gospel; that no satisfaction or fulfillment is realized in the performance of perfunctory religious acts. We would benefit greatly by daily asking ourselves a form of the question Jesus posed to the wedding crasher, “How did I get into the church of the Lord Jesus Christ?” We need not be at a loss of words. The answer is grace alone.
“Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast” (Matthew 22:9).
The opening imperative of this verse will become the same two words forming the initial directive of the Great Commission (See 28:19). In this task of going, engaging, and inviting, there is to be no evaluating, measuring, assuming, or judging. While religion enjoys a homogeneous existence, where everyone looks and acts the same, the life of faith lived out in the body of Christ draws from every expression of life—the broken, the flawed, the problematic, the outcasts. It was into a world filled with discriminatory religion that the gospel came forth, opening the door of God’s grace to anyone and everyone.
“But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business” (Matthew 22:5).
Whether it’s the indifference of those invited to the wedding feast, or their preoccupation with other things, it is but an indication of how easily any of us can be distracted by the less important and the excuses we offer for ignoring the things of God. If something is really important to us, we will find a way. If not, we will find an excuse. There is no such thing as procrastination; there is only priorities and non-priorities. Check your list today and see what’s really important.
“And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come” (Matthew 22:3).
In the Parable of the Marriage Feast, the offering of God’s salvation is depicted by a king who actively labors for the benefit for those who would be part of the wedding feast. Out of his giving, preparing, and sending the keynote theme is one of invitation—the idea of responding to his call (v.3,8,9,14). The unwillingness of those invited to attend, is depicted by a verb tense that indicates an action that is continual and ongoing. They repeatedly rejected his invitation. Even those of us least informed in matters of protocol know that the only appropriate response to the invitation of a king is acceptance and attendance.