Archive for March, 2022
“A prudent person sees evil and hides himself, but the naive proceed, and pay the penalty” (Proverbs 22:3).
Positioning oneself to victoriously live the life of faith requires attentiveness and intentionality. Besides practicing the disciplines of the faith—bible study, prayer, worship, giving, and service—the wise understand not all people or situations are conducive to one’s growth and well-being. With that recognition, instead of just naively hoping everything turns out okay, the prudent give deliberate forethought to finding a means of escape from toxic personalities and circumstances. Random living gets random results. Because the eternal stakes are too high to be left to chance, proactive steps must be taken in the avoidance of some things, while pursuing those things having more positive outcomes.
“And replying to him, Jesus said, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ And the man who was blind said to Him, ‘Rabboni, I want to regain my sight’” (Mark 10:51)!
The blind Bartimaeus shows no hesitancy asking for the very thing others would see as impossible. From throwing off his cloak, to jumping up, coming to Jesus (v.50), and now asking, Bartimaeus seems to be “faith-ing” his way forward into discovering what God has in store for him. Such is the active nature of faith. While “faith,” as a particle of speech, is defined as a noun, as a follower of Christ, faith acts as a verb in its application; defining us by our actions. To continue forward in faith is to always see more in the providential purposes of God.
“And throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus” (Mark 10:50).
The blind man, Bartimaeus, realized this might be a never to be repeated encounter; his only opportunity to have an audience with the One who restores sight. The promptness of Bartimaeus in this moment should not be ignored; it captures well the necessity of an attentive response to the beckoning call of God’s Spirit. To delay in coming to Christ is to add another layer of hardness to the human heart; to the point of becoming so insensitive not even his Spirit can penetrate; fulfilling the word of the Lord in Genesis 6:4, “My Spirit will not remain with man forever.”
“Then they came to Jericho. And later, as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a beggar who was blind named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road” (Mark 10:46).
Being a great visionary for the Kingdom of God isn’t to see the yet unimagined monumental opportunities coming over the horizon but, rather, it is to recognize the daily chances sitting by the road. Jesus had a cross sitting on his horizon, the single greatest contribution to Kingdom life in human history, but his attention was given to the marginalized, the powerless, the disenfranchised, lepers, the tormented, the crippled, children, a woman with a hemorrhage. God doesn’t care much about what we might do with opportunities we don’t yet have but, rather, what we are doing with the ones before us right now.
“The one who keeps His commandments remains in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He remains in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us” (1 John 3:24).
Having committed themselves to the pursuit of life according to God’s design, these alone are the ones who will know the fullness and richness of His companionship. God’s design, of course, reached full expression in the person of Jesus Christ; the One whose name is used in connection with “Savior” only 26 times, but whose Lordship is referenced on more than 600 occasions. Only by living under the umbrella of his Lordship does a meaningful relationship become reality.
“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).
In a culture that worships at the golden calf of self-serving individualism, most seek and embrace a religious expression they have fashioned for themselves and consider to be unique. To be a follower of Christ, however, is to subscribe to a common set of historic beliefs held by preceding generations for 2000 years of Christian history. A personal faith should never be understood as personalized beliefs.
“Woman believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshippers” (John 4:21-23).
Cultural Christians contextualize worship in terms of time and place. Consumer Christians think of worship in terms of style, preference, and the expectation of being accommodated. True worship, however, is offered in spirit and truth and takes place at the feet of Jesus.
“and whatever we ask, we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22).
Ever found yourself in a conversation, think marriage, where the thought crossed your mind, “I think we are on different pages.” The same thing occurs in the life of faith. On the subject of prayer, talking with God, many are drawn to verses that highlight the asking and receiving, while neglecting the parts about obedience and pleasing God. Good communication occurs when both parties understand one another clearly. When on the same page with God, prayerful communication shifts from my want of things to a desire for His glory, and His will be done.
“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God” (1 John 3:21).
The confidence of which John writes points to a kind of openness; that there is nothing to hide before God. Because I know He knows me; that He is not blind to my sin, struggles, and shortcomings, I can openly, transparently, confessionally, and confidently set them all before Him. This confidence is rooted in the atoning work of Jesus Christ; a confidence that refuses to allow Satan to steal away the joy of salvation with the poisoned memories of the past for which Christ died. It is a confidence that lives forward into the promises of God.
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Having previously seen what Paul wasn’t saying, followed by what he was saying, the pressing question today is, “What do you say?” That is, in any given circumstance, what will be your outlook, perspective, and attitude. Paul’s statement is in the active voice. He isn’t a passive victim, but he continues pressing forward. Do you? Will you? Or will you just sit there as a hapless victim of circumstances, allowing negative thoughts and emotions to hold you hostage and steal away your life. When all of your hopes, dreams, aspirations, and beliefs are nailed to a cross and die, what do you say? Your answer will determine the quality of your future days.