Archive for November, 2018
“But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light” (Ephesians 5:13).
The most basic properties of light are speed, reflection, and color. When applied to the life of faith, and the effectiveness of our witness in a dark world, it means the impression we give to others will happen fast; that what they see in us will reflect either the world or our confession, and the interpretation of faith they see in our lives will color forever their perception of what it is to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
“Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20).
From their limited perspective and understanding, they believed themselves to be history’s last generation. Never could they have imagined that they were but the first generation of a movement that would continue to this day. Just as the role of the apostles was foundational to the origins of the Church, the faithfulness of your life is no less foundational to the continuing ministry and presence of the Church in the world.
“For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea” (1 Corinthians 10:1).
Being comfortable, having a manageable life, and a predictable routine are foreign concepts to the life of faith. These are the very things that make one resistant to change. Everyone says they are open to change until change is thrust upon them. Such was the case for Israel. They spoke great, hope-filled words of faith up until deliverance meant something different than what they had ever known; something uncomfortable and unpredictable. The clouds of change upon you may, in actuality, be God’s cloud of provision for a greater, but different, future.
“For there is a proper time and procedure for every delight, though a man’s trouble is heavy upon him” (Ecclesiastes 8:6).
With another year coming to a rapid close, one is reminded of the value of time; that it is non-renewable resource. Yet consider the various ways that time is wasted—doing nothing, doing what shouldn’t be done in the first place, doing things poorly, and doing things at the wrong time. Faith is the remedy in that it adds meaning to time—doing things with purpose, doing the things that should be done, doing them with excellence, and doing them at the right time.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24).
The question I have never been able to resolve is why so many confessing believers are characterized by a kind of clinical coldness, melancholia, and anxiety. The preoccupation with not “messing up” has filled their heart with fear and stolen away what is to be the joyful chase of eternal life. They are all effort and no victory. If the decree of God’s word is that you have passed from death into life, it’s time to start living.
“But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son” (Galatians 4:4).
The world needed a Savior. All of creation was groaning for the promised Redeemer. With each passing year, decade, century, millennium, God’s chosen people cried out for their Deliverer. God’s response? It came when the time was strategically just right for the greatest impact. Just as God has acted in history, you can be sure that he hears your cries and, when the time is just right, he will redeem your circumstances.
“I am afflicted and in pain. I will praise the name of God with song, and shall magnify Him with thanksgiving. And it will please the Lord better than an ox” (Psalm 69:29,30,31).
It’s easy isn’t it? To praise God when things are going as you think they should? The real test comes in the face of adversity. This quickly clarifies one’s motives. The psalmist elects to praise God simply because He is God and worthy of praise. We should note that the psalmist ranks this praise as being of greater value than any animal sacrifice. While some would seek to bargain with God in their time of trial, saying, “I’ll try to be more sacrificial; I will do more religious things,” such attitudes reflect a shallowness of thought; that God is some kind of heavenly “sugar daddy” that can be paid off to make our troubles go away. Our difficulties don’t make him any less God, and he is still worthy of praise.
“But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land’” (Acts 5:3)?
The startling account of Ananias and Sapphira and their deceit is the first real crisis faced in the church. That death befell both of them speaks to the radical nature of the gospel and the vision that God has for his church. Does the gospel, in fact, have the power to transform human hearts that are by nature hard, selfish, greedy, and materialistic, and convert them into something selfless, charitable, and joyful in giving? It’s a question that has been answered in the affirmative by 2000 years of faithful saints and their stewardship to the Lord.
“Moses said, ‘This will happen when the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning; for the Lord hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him. And what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against the Lord’” (Exodus 16:8).
Thanksgiving isn’t a day on the calendar but a perspective on life, regardless of circumstances. As Dr. Seuss reminds us in, Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?,you could have been a Schlottz—crumble-horn, web-footed, green-bearded, whose tail is tangled with unsolvable knots. The lighthearted lessons he offered children are profoundly true for each of us—“It’s a troublesome world. All the people who’re in it are troubled with troubles almost every minute. You ought to be thankful, a whole heaping lot, for the places and people you’re lucky you’re not.” Let us be thankful in all things.
“Then Joshua said to Achan, ‘My son, I implore you, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and give praise to Him; and tell me now what you have done. Do not hide it from me’” (Joshua 7:19).
Sadly, in a society that deems personal rights freedoms, rights, and individual expression as the highest good, many within the American church have foolishly embraced this worldview as an expression of a mature faith. Achan wrongly assumed that one man’s freedom would harm no one else. Yet, the exercise of his individual rights cost thirty-six men their lives and threatened the security of all. The virtuous man vigorously pursues not selfish expression but that which is the greater good for all.