Archive for July, 2021


“I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders” (Psalm 9:1).

Our awareness of God’s life-sustaining provision is most telling when a spirit of thanksgiving is the prevailing attitude of the heart. It is a perspective on life that sees the hand of God in all things great and small. While he does the tending we must do the telling.

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“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34).

What has been used only eight times to this point in John’s gospel, love will now be utilized 30 times and becomes a central theme of Jesus’ five chapter (13-17) upper room discourse to his disciples. The concept of love is as old as humanity itself; loving God and loving one another being foundational within scripture (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18). What’s new is the fresh spin given by Jesus; that we love as he has loved us. This love is not a conjuring up of feelings, but is a continuation and extension of his love. Like an automobile you would consider purchasing, take it out and give it a spin.

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“Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’” (John 13:33).

To appreciate what will be the changing dynamics of their relationship with Jesus, we must hear these words from the perspective of those eleven disciples; not our understanding 2000 years later. For them, the events about to unfold are incomprehensible; disastrous not glorious. What has been a face to face relationship will now become one in Spirit. After the ascension, Jesus’ earlier words will have even greater significance: “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). 

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“Therefore when he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him’” (John 13:31).

While Satan must have anticipated that the treachery of Judas would be a disruption of the purposes of God, who could have imagined it to be but a fulfilling of His divine plan? For a word normally associated with the majesty and splendor, only the mind of God could look ahead and see himself glorified in lowly service, suffering, and death. So certain is Jesus that his suffering and death will bring glory to God, he uses the past tense of glorified, as if it has already been accomplished. It is with the same confident anticipation of a glory we cannot even comprehend, that we endure and persevere through the sufferings of this present life.

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“Therefore when he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him’” (John 13:31).

Size doesn’t necessarily translate to strength; growing fatter doesn’t mean stronger. Thus, with the departure of Judas, the band of disciples will be leaner, better focused, and more effective. Such is always the case when the frustration and discontent of evil incarnate decides to leave. Now God-glorifying things can be accomplished rather than the distraction of self-serving things.

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“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but your are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household” (Ephesians 2:19).

To be a member of the household of God is a unique and distinctive citizenship; characterized by gathering with a community not of strangers and aliens, but brothers and sisters of the faith. While many think of faith only in terms of what it offers in the hereafter, there are an exponentially greater number of scriptures emphasizing faith being lived in the context of community here and now. The individualistic, churchless, lone ranger spirituality of today has no precedence in biblical literature. From Acts to Revelation, the Spirit of the resurrected Christ labors to form his people into a community. Let us work with Him to see it done.

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“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb” (John 20:1).

Mary’s abiding faith got her up early Sunday morning and to the tomb of her Lord. Whether she was anticipating something special is uncertain but her actions offered what would become the centerpiece of Christian history and practice—going first thing Sunday morning to discover the resurrected Christ. Every Sunday is one of historic celebration and, by our faithful worship attendance, assures the future propagation of the church.

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“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).

Not only are you the object of God’s love, but you were created to be loved by him. He has crowned and made us heirs. Because we most often view ourselves in the reflection of past failures and shortcomings, we are constrained in considering ourselves as objects of Divine favor. We must learn to refocus on what we know about Him instead of being held hostage by what we know about ourselves. How well we know Him is revealed in the love we offer to others.

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“Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (Psalm 119:18).

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education noted that many universities will require all incoming freshman to have completed a “common reading,” a book selected by their institution to create a shared experience and be the subject of group discussions. For the church, our common reading is the word of God; a necessary instructive resource, utilized by the Holy Spirit, to fashion us into a uniquely distinctive people. Interestingly, both the university and the church face a great challenge. All data points indicate that Gen Z, those born from 1997-present, do not read books, and they are the first truly post-Christian generation, with only 4% adhering to a biblical worldview. While all entities with an institutional identity are facing cataclysmic paradigm shifts, it is a fresh opportunity for the church to reestablish her identity as an “intrusional” presence within the culture.

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“O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey” (Deuteronomy 6:3).

The concern of Moses is for the perpetuation of those principles and precepts commanded by God; that the community of faith might continue as a thriving people in this world. Those addressed are parents and grandparents, who bear the responsibility of teaching and modeling the life of faith for their household. Even today, all metrics, and empirical data, continue to reveal that the single, most powerful, formative influence in the faith expression of teenagers and young adults is the faith demonstrated by their parents. The church, therefore, becomes either a confirmation or a contradiction to everything being learned at home.

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