Archive for October, 2018
“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).
On any given day, there are some 3000 individuals in the U.S. awaiting a heart transplant. When it comes to a heart of faith, however, there is no wait. Sin is not merely an external act; it is an internal condition resulting from a calcified heart. Even so, God awaits the invitation of those who would desire a new heart, and when they in faith make their appeal known to him, he will infuse them with his Spirit and give them a new life and an even better long-term prognosis.
“Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19).
While verse 18 speaks theologically to the authority of scripture, the present verse addresses the ethic of scripture—it is to be obeyed. We are not left to our own subjective whims as to how the life of faith is to be lived, but objective guidance and direction is to be found in scripture. Thus, the warning against annulling (belittling, diminishing) any portion of sacred text. To belittle scripture is to be little in the Kingdom; while honoring it with obedience is to be honored.
“For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from he Law until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18).
Knowing the waking passion of Jesus was to do the will of God and to accomplish His work (John 4:34), a pertinent question is, “When will the work of the Law be fully accomplished?” It is an inquiry answered by the cross, resurrection, and final exaltation of Christ when every knee shall bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11). Until then, the Law provides guidance, boundaries, and instruction for the people of God and the question of, “How shall we then live?”
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him” (Psalms 8:3-4a)?
Gazing into the evening sky and considering the vastness of heaven, David could not but ponder why God would give so much time and attention to humankind. He was awestruck by the expanse of heaven, though he could see only five or six thousand stars with his eye and, thus, dumbstruck by the significance God gave to man. With today’s telescopes, we know that our galaxy, the Milky Way, is 100-120 light years in diameter and contains 200-400 billion stars. If we do the math, our amazement at what God has done and is doing should be exponential in comparison to David’s.
“For she thought, ‘If I just touch His garments, I will get well’” (Mark 5:28).
All she wanted was for the bleeding to stop; the unceasing dull ache to go away. For over a decade she had suffered and doctors offered no remedy. She heard, however, of a Greater Physician. There would be a crowd. She was a private woman, and this was a personal matter. Wanting no attention, she thought, “If only I could touch His cloak I would get well,” never imagining that her private display of faith would become a public testimony benefitting the church for 2000 years. While suffering is personal, our reaction is public and of eternal benefit to those who witness our faith.
“For the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth” (Ephesians 5:9).
Just as a bowl of fruit can brighten any room, so should the presence of God’s people in the world. The fruit of the Light is but the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The Light of God, incarnated in the likes of you and me, is a vital witness in this world. We are luminaries, called and mobilized, for the purpose of inspiring, reaching, and leading.
“For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light” (Ephesians 5:8).
We are what we are in real time; in the flesh; here and now. The life of faith isn’t just moving out of darkness and into the light; it is the transformation from darkness incarnate to light incarnate. Do not miss the implication of this truth: Man is not inherently good and in need of a few adjustments; he is inherently evil and in need of conversion. Understanding this makes our mission and message all the more urgent and critical.
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15).
While salt works silently, pervasively, and unobtrusively, light is open and manifest. As luminaries in a dark world, the followers of Christ must live with a responsible awareness of the influential role given us. When the fruit of the Light (Eph. 5:9) shines forth from our lives, we never know how God will use this to trip the light of salvation in the life of those around us.
“nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp-stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house” (Matthew 5:15).
To light the path that God would have men to walk means we must engage the culture instead of taking flight from it. Faintheartedness and being weak-minded is a tragic posture displayed by too many confessing Christians; cowering in fear every time the world says, “Boo.” They sequester themselves into sanctified cocoons, where they think they can exist untainted by the world. It is misguided strategy with no merit or theological basis. Living separated from society doesn’t make you any more a saint than living in hole makes you holy.
“nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket,…” (Matthew 5:15a).
I believe the term “peck-measure,” as utilized in some translations, is more descriptive than “basket” in capturing the implications of Jesus’ words. A peck-measure was a standard by which farmers conducted their business. Jesus employs it to say that the standards, practices, and methodologies of men can never become our standard for carrying out the business of God’s Kingdom. His is a Kingdom not of this world. While the disciples then, and many today, desire him to be a conquering political king, Jesus came as a Suffering Servant. By prayer and faithfulness, his work is accomplished; not by politics and power.