Archive for July, 2019
“He has made His wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate” (Psalm 111:4).
Our present conflicts can blind us to the larger purposes of God. For instance, when the Lord passes over the doorposts of the Israelites (Exodus 12), it was done not only for the good of his people there and then but, also, for all generations that would follow. In our tendency toward self-preoccupation, it is a needed reminder that God is working not just for me and my moments on this earth, but the redemption of all for eternity. Remember that!
“Great are the works of the Lord; they are studied by all who delight in them” (Psalm 111:2).
A biblical worldview is accomplished by the disciplined, repetitive exercise of filtering the events and circumstances of this life through the prism of scripture. It is achieved when we have studied intently the workings of God borne out in scripture; by continually seeking them out because they are the source of our delight. This mental reflection upon how God has acted faithfully in the past opens us up to the awareness of his working in the present.
“Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart, in the company of the upright and in the assembly” (Psalm 111:1).
To worship God with all one’s heart is an exercise in discipline. The greatest challenge is overcoming our tendency to worship as an audience of consumers; that the elements of worship must align with my personal preferences and accommodate my chosen lifestyle. Such evaluations reveal one’s self to be the true god and object of one’s affections. In the maelstrom of life, it is the thankful hearted, alone, that are able to identify the true God and make him the undistracted focus of their worship.
“Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3).
What began with all things being “handed over” to Him by the Father (Matthew 11:27) culminated with His being “handed over” to be crucified (John 19:16). The Good News is that three days later death handed him over to the glory of the resurrection. What has been handed over to us must now be handed down to others.
“But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart” (John 16:5-6).
Jesus’ dismay stems from the disciples seeming lack of imagination in matters of faith. So troubled are they by his failure to live up to their Messianic expectations that they cannot even consider what, maybe, God is doing in their lives and the world. Disappointing circumstances will always change but we must never lose the curiosity of unimaginable possibilities.
“The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
A community is forged and held together by the pursuit of common values and convictions. As evidenced in the current events of our day, when these are absent a spirit of anarchy and civil unrest abounds. Whether it’s done in the name of freedom, democracy, intellectual inquiry, political correctness, or any other myriad causes, previously understood moral absolutes have been criticized and removed from the public square by the brokers of cultural influence. We then wonder how we came to be a society plagued by irresponsibility, the absence of human regard, and no fear of consequence. To quote C.S. Lewis, “In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful” (The Abolition of Man). Bemoaning society accomplishes nothing. Living out the commandments of God is the only appropriate response for all of us.
“And he said to them, ‘You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean’” (Acts 10:28).
Peter’s eyes were opened to the difference between institutional religion and the gospel of Christ. Institutional religion is homogenous, neat, clean, predictable, pristine, sanitized, sanctified, and comfortably lived out in a climate-controlled sanctuary. Biblical faith, and the missional task given to the church, however, is played out in the unpredictable messiness of a broken humanity; among people who do not know the “Sunday School” answers to the crises of life faced each day. Institutional religion is self-satisfied with having attended, while the church on mission lives restlessly among those who do not yet realize that the only way out of their quagmire is up. Instead of judging, engage; instead of dog-piling, lift up.