Archive for December, 2019
“And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8).
Developing an aversion to conviction and seeking to run from it has a crippling effect upon the formation of one’s faith. Conviction is a means utilized by the Holy Spirit to accomplish in us his work of transformation. The tension we experience in reading, or hearing proclaimed, the word of God is something to be embraced. It means God’s Spirit is alive in you; working dynamically to make us more into his likeness; to move us from where we are to where he would have us be. To avoid and ignore conviction is an admission that life will be lived according to one’s own desires regardless of the teachings found in scripture.
“They read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading” (Nehemiah 8:8).
Personally, I have never advocated New Year’s resolutions; believing they only add to the fragmentation of overly busy lives. Instead, as followers of Christ, our lives should be driven by a solitary resolve: to honor the Lord Jesus Christ in all our being and doing. By this holistic approach, every facet of life is impacted. For this resolve to become reality, however, we must immerse ourselves into scripture; that we might objectively discover the will and purposes of God and, then, live our lives accordingly. With this understanding, each day is a new beginning.
“He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power” (Isaiah 40:29).
Ever felt like you have been run over by life? The most tiresome existence is one caught in the vortex of meaningless pursuits; pulling one down further and further into the spiral of triviality. Purpose is realized when faith becomes the vocation of life. The strength God gives is for the life of service to which we are called; to be ministers of His gospel. From this perspective even the mundane becomes meaningful.
“I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst” (John 6:35).
Physical hunger is relevant for the present moment. Spiritual hunger is beyond the ordinary range of human experience or understanding; it transcends the natural realm. Too often we hear the critics of the church make the claim that the message of the church isn’t relevant. Sadly, even some inside the church have been overly influenced by the cultural demand of relevance. Relevance is for the present moment; one’s current and ever-changing circumstances. The Good News of the gospel is that it transcends today and points us to an eternal hope. Might we be a people that hunger for more.
“Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13).
The Weights and Measures Division of the U.S. Government was established to promote uniformity, regulations, and the standards necessary to achieve equity between buyers and sellers in the marketplace. In similar fashion, when God called us into the life faith, he did not leave us to our own intuitive desires, subjective whims, nor the ever-changing tide of cultural authorities that tell us what we should think on any variety of issues. When his Spirit inspired the biblical writers to record the things they had seen and heard, God was establishing an objective standard by which our understanding of him could be measured. Gut-feelings are a poor substitute for the standard of sound words set before us.
“Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him” (Matthew 3:13).
Following their accounts of his birth, Matthew and Luke both move immediately to the baptism of Jesus. Mark opens with Jesus’ baptism and, following his philosophical reflection upon the Word and the deity of Christ, John records the initiation of Jesus’ public ministry with the testimony of John the Baptist. While not diminishing the tradition of celebrating Jesus’ birth, the greater acknowledgement of his life and mission, as evidenced by his own example, is an acknowledgement of faith, marked by baptism, and a lifetime given to the diligent pursuit of the Father’s will.
“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him” (Matthew 2:2).
Until he is found there is no adequate substitute for the void that only Christ can fill. Religion will become a meaningless ritual until it is finally dropped or observed on an annual basis only. Nonstop visits to the pantry and refrigerator never satisfy what we hunger for most. There isn’t enough booze in the world to quench the thirst that the masses are seeking to drown. Pursue one relationship after another and loneliness still haunts the soul. Medicine cabinets provide only a temporary escape from the pain no pill can cure. Once he has been truly found, however, worship becomes the expression of one’s life and the rhythm of one’s practice. Sentiment may be found under a tree on Christmas morning, but to find the Savior requires lifting up our eyes every day to the heavens from whence our help cometh (Psalm 121:1).
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).
Before he was the firstborn of Mary, he was the firstborn of creation (Colossians 1:15). He would eventually become the firstborn of the dead (Revelation 1:4). At both his birth and death he was wrapped in cloths. That there was no place for him at the inn would be indicative of his life—having no place to lay his head (Luke 9:58). When they finally laid him in a tomb, it could not constrain him. Two thousand years later, Jesus desires to dwell in those who would follow him. Do not weep because there was no room at the inn. The more tragic story is to have no room for him in your heart.
“To Him who loves us…” (Revelation 1:5).
From beginning to end, Genesis to Revelation; from God acting in creation to the return of Christ and the consummation of the ages, all that he has done, and is doing, is initiated by his love. God’s love is not merit-based; dependent upon our performance. God’s redeeming purposes are being carried out on the basis of who he is, not what we have done.
“O taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).
Created in his image, God has given us five senses—sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell—to not only experience the immediacy of any given moment but, also, to respond appropriately to what our senses have detected. However, with growing alarm it seems that much of what we call life has become canned, digitized, less personal; robbing us of the personalized and responsive existence our senses desire to offer. While advancing technology allows us to plug-in to the world in a variety of helpful ways, we must not allow “high tech” to become a substitute for the engagement of our senses; that we might offer to the world around us the engagement that a “high touch” Savior longs to offer.