Archive for March, 2019
“Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name? What shall I say to them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’” (Exodus 3:13-14).
By our efforts to better understand our Heavenly Father, we unwittingly place labels upon Him that reflect our desire to manipulate and control Him. Seek to domesticate God, and you discover that His Spirit works in uncontrollable and unimaginable ways. Try to define Him, and you will find that no dictionary is adequate. Attempt to frame Him in a particular doctrine, and you realize that no number of creeds or confessions are sufficient. Label Him with a denominational banner and see that our man-made organizations are inadequate in their claims on Him. Try to politicize or nationalize God, and you will soon see that His is a Kingdom for all people from all places. HE IS WHO HE IS.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55: 8-9).
While man is created in the image of God, we must understand that God is not like man. His ways are not our ways. Idolatry is man’s attempt to portray God in images that inevitably are limiting, obscuring, confining, controlling, and projecting of our desires upon him. The escape from idolatry occurs when one stops living for the god you want and start pursuing the God who is.
“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal” (Matthew 6:20).
For those who live each day based upon the ever present reality of eternity, they view life from a different perspective. Instead of living life on a horizontal plane, settling for the opportunities populating our horizon, the biblically informed life lifts its eyes with imagination, and the anticipation of what God has in store; an offering uncorrupted by nature (moth), time (rust), and humanity (thieves).
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19).
While “treasures” is not limited to the issue of money and material prosperity, for Christ followers who happen to live in the affluence of the West and our economic system of capitalism, it certainly has to be a major consideration. Capitalism is a double-edged sword. It is the best economic system in the world in that it produces jobs, growth, and private ownership. At the same time, it can prove spiritually detrimental for those who achieve success by its standards…resulting in greed, arrogance, and avarice. It is a unique person, indeed, who can withstand the full frontal assault of economic prosperity.
“But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:17-18).
It may shock some hearing Jesus call his followers to a look of normalcy; to not do those things that would cause you to stand out and be noticed; that gloom and doom need not be the countenance of the Christian faith. Whatever our circumstances might be, we must offer forth a positive depiction of faith and our life in Him.
“But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons” (Hebrews 12:8).
Spiritual disciplines—worshipping, praying, giving, fasting, bible study, and serving—are holy habits to be practiced for the purpose of producing desired outcomes; that is, the fruit of the Spirit that God desires to see manifested in our lives. Just as one does not simply drift into academic achievement, success in the arts, and great accomplishment in athletics, neither does one attain the things of God by happenstance. The people of God are not dreamers of what might be but, rather, we are disciplined pursuers of who God says we are in Christ Jesus—sons.
“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full” (Matthew 6:16).
While an annual observance in the Jewish tradition, fasting emerged originally from deeply personal and emotional experiences of such a degree the person would forget to eat and take care of themselves. The hypocrisy of which Jesus speaks is to be found among those who create their own misery and pretend to be struggling saints plodding faithfully through the hardships this world presents. It’s not unlike those on social media who constantly whine about “adulting,” or what was formerly referred to as life. Distortion and disfigurement is a negative portrayal of a faith intended to positively impact life.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).
Pain and suffering has a way of imprisoning us to the present tense and distorting our perception; to think this is all there is and that no greater realities exist. From a fellow sufferer, we are challenged to contrast our present circumstances to the future promises of God. By so doing we find the encouragement to make it through another day…perhaps this day.
“Listen, for I will speak noble things; and the opening of my lips will reveal right things” (Proverbs 8:6).
Ever notice how some conversations are edifying and redeeming while others are draining and demoralizing? There are those who speak life into our existence and those who speak defeat. The voices that lift up, stretch, and create within us a longing for higher things, emerge from those who walk in wisdom. Wisdom offers us things worth hearing.
“Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).
For the world outside our doorstep, the inclusive “us” stands as a constant reminder of our responsibility to be responsive. Whenever some social injustice presents itself…such as hunger, homelessness, or the absence of healthcare…the question is often asked, “What is the church going to do about this?” If the church is, in fact, to be part of the solution, then it must be answered by the likes of you and me. When confronted by such needs, it’s only by what each one of us do in that moment that all of us, as the church, have any chance of making a difference.