Archive for April, 2018
“Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life” (John 6:26-27).
Many have adapted an “Americanized” understanding of Jesus, reducing him to a short-order cook that gives them what they want, when they want it. Once the realities of life strike, and it’s realized that Jesus isn’t their “Mister Fix-it,” the overwhelming majority fall away. A key to staying the course in the life of faith is to want more than you want right now. That is, hungering and laboring for that which far surpasses the temporal offerings that bring momentary satisfaction to our fleshly appetites. What are you hungering for right now? Want more than that!
“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
I would rather go to heaven beaten and bruised from having stood against the tide of a Christ-less culture than slide unscathed into hell because I sat indifferently among the crowd-following masses. The one you fear—man or God—determines both the path and destiny of your life.
“To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey” (Matthew 25:15).
When reading the parable of the talents, it’s tempting to see God as being somewhat harsh in his judgment of the man given one talent. After all, he didn’t embezzle the money. He wasn’t like the prodigal son, who wasted his holdings on wild, riotous living. No, the judgement against him wasn’t for what he did but what he failed to do. The Master entrusts us with talents according to our ability. While I may not be expected to do as much as the one with five talents, I am expected to do something. The sin of doing nothing is the worst sin of all.
“And he was saying, ‘Jesus remember me when You come in Your kingdom’” (Luke 23:42)!
I have been asked if I believe in deathbed conversions. Of course! What is the request of the thief on the cross and the assuring promise given him by Jesus (v.43) if not a deathbed conversion? Sometimes it takes a lifetime of circumstances for a person to come to a place of crying out repentantly for the grace and mercies of God. Even so, why wait? Time waiting is time wasted. Why would one wait until they are nearly dead to discover what it is to truly live?
“And following Him was a large crowd of the people, and of women who were mourning and lamenting Him” (Luke 23:27).
Jesus always distinguished between a crowd and disciples. Being among a crowd interested in spiritual things doesn’t mean you are a devoted follower of Jesus. Within every church crowd are those that can be called “almost converts.” They’re akin to the professional mourners that followed ancient funeral processions, believing they would gain spiritual merit. It’s disconcerting to imagine that there are those who attend church all their life and end up being just part of the crowd; religious professionals who remain on the perimeter watching; never making the decision to truly follow Him.
“When they led Him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, coming in from the country, and placed on him the cross to carry behind Jesus” (Luke 23:26).
I have never met anyone who planned on becoming a follower of Christ. Such transactions occur when the routines and circumstances of everyday life intersect with the providential purposes of God. It’s in such moments that we find ourselves “seized” by his Spirit, beckoning us to follow him. Simon was just a pilgrim from Northern Africa attending the Passover festivities, having no thought of a man named Jesus and, certainly, no intent of becoming his disciple. But he did, and in so doing, he would become the Abraham of his family, paving the way for two sons, Rufus and Alexander, both well-known to the church at Rome (Mark 15:21).
“Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division” (Luke 12:51).
Great movements, impactful organizations, and transformed lives are birthed and sustained not on the basis of strategic planning but convictional beliefs. The redemptive purposes of God, revealed and fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ, when believed, embraced, and pursued, will inevitably alter the nature of how you relate to all things, and all people. The presence of the gospel, dwelling in you, both attracts and appalls. The agency of your influence cannot be contained.
“And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more” (Luke 12:47-48).
Among theologians, a frequent topic of discussion is the plight of the pagan—what they know regarding God, the Gospel, and how they will be judged in eternity. Based upon today’s text, the greater concern seems to be not what the pagan knows but what do I know, and what am I doing with the knowledge I have. Am I being transformed by the gospel and the working of the Spirit? Am I laboring in every facet of my life to be obedient to the teachings of God’s word? Is the fruit of the Spirit evident in my life? If not, my fate is far worse than that of the pagan.
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
There is certainly more to be known about God than we now know, but we now know everything we need to know about God. In him are the words of life.
“I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12b).
Regarding your standing before the Father, is your confidence in your religious performance or in what Jesus has accomplished on your behalf? In other words, does salvation reside in you or in Christ? The word “entrusted” is a banking term. It means to make a deposit for safe-keeping. As we would confidently deposit our paycheck into a bank, with all the more confidence, we deposit our life with the One we know can keep it secure.