Archive for October, 2018
“Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus” (John 1:35-37).
That the disciples of John “heard” him as he spoke means in modern English idiom that they “got it”; “it clicked.” Of all the sermons we hear, bible studies in which we participate, and devotionals we read, how do we know if it’s really “clicking”? The answer is obvious—-if we, too, follow Jesus. Those who “get it” do it.
“You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me’” (Matthew 15:7-8).
For those who insist on making mention of “all” the hypocrites in the church, I always respond, “And we have room for one more.” The truth of the matter is that there is a bit of hypocrisy in all of us. None of us are yet what we desire to be nor what we are going to be. The best way to deal with “all” the hypocrites is examining our own hearts and dealing with the hypocrisy within us—being honest with God and ourselves.
“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11).
This exhortation is based upon the assumption that God’s people are best suited for life somewhere else; that their standards of behavior are a better fit for their “home” culture of heaven, not the culture in which they live. While holier-than-thou Christians are a turn-off to everyone, we can ill-afford to think that worldlier-than-thou saints are of any help to the mission of Christ. Aliens stand out; they don’t blend in.
“Always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:10).
A major theme in the life of faith is Jesus’ death. It is a story we not only tell but seek to live out each day. Dying to self becomes our pursuit as Christ lives in us. In contrast to this is the life lived for self—it justifies itself, demands its rights, wants its on way, seeks its own glory, is envious, irritable, resentful, critical, worried, hard, and unyielding. Once again, the paradox of Kingdom life reveals itself—only by dying do we discover life.
“The humble have seen it and are glad; you who seek God, let your heart revive” (Psalm 69:32).
Revival is not a matter of everyone else; it’s you and me. Revival is personal. Where it is desired, it occurs immediately and continually. Revived living is a state of existence experienced by all who walk in the light of the resurrected Christ. Absolutely, pray for revival, but pray it begins with you.
“So the sons of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses came to an end” (Deuteronomy 34:8).
For each of us, there is a day coming when our funeral will be planned. Individuals asked to give a word of eulogy might include a family member, friend, or co-worker. What will they say about you? Will they speak of your love for family? Loyalty as a friend? Integrity and character of faith? The bigger question is, are you being those things now? Being these things today make it easier for loved ones to speak of them honestly tomorrow.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
The creation narrative of Genesis is summarized with God’s declaration that it was good. It’s no insignificant lesson for us that a good start to something isn’t that it began but, rather, something was created, produced, accomplished. Time is limited, so it’s foolish to just kickoff the day/the event/the game and seeing what happens. Starting well is to make something happen. It’s a mindset and habit to awaken each day and start by doing something productive. This way, no matter how bad the rest of the day might be, you can point back to the start with the satisfaction of knowing that you did at least one productive thing.
“On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary” (1 Corinthians 12:22).
While we are tempted to ascribe greater esteem to those public gifts utilized in leading corporate worship, it is the “behind-the-scene” gifts that prove to be indispensable. In fact, the strength of Paul’s statement is that they are “more necessary.” The merit of our individual grace gifts are not to be debated, but utilized as opportunities arise. The collective effort of our “lesser” gifts will accomplish more than the one utilizing his “greater” gift.
“Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions” (Psalms 51:1).
Sin has such a devastating impact—the loss of joy; the guilt, anguish, and shame; the sense of failure. While some choose to wallow in the misery, thinking there is no escape, it is not necessary to remain a slave to sin. We are hiding nothing from God. He knows what he’s dealing with. He longs to forgive, and he wants only for us to ask.
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men” (Matthew 5:13).
There are sobering insights to be found in the nuances of the verbal phrase, “become tasteless.” The tense, voice, and mood indicate that this state of being can be traced to a moment of inception, resulting from no outside force acting upon you, and whether or not this condition occurs depends solely upon the individual. Only by continuing in the faith is one’s faith proved out.