Archive for December, 2022


“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. You have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry” (Colossians 3:2,3,5).

In contemplating the resolutions of a new year, be mindful that you are created for more than weight loss, debt management, a new job, a dream trip, reducing, reusing, and recycling. All of these things may be important and necessary but we are designed for infinitely more. Set your mind on things above and consider the possibilities.

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“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).

A word is a vehicle for conveying thoughts. Strung together, words become a means of communication. However, for ancient Greek philosophers, to speak of the word (logos), was to ponder how the universe is sustained; the pursuit of a prevailing principle that holds all things together. By reason and rational thought, it was their attempt to make intelligible that which brings meaning to all existence. John’s opening statement is the assertion that the word (logos) has always been, and will forever be, Jesus.

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“Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

At its core, any vengeance you and I might seek to carry out is selfishly motivated; a bitter desire to counter the impact something has had on our personal lives. Seeing that God’s wrath is a component of a greater divine justice, only He, in his omniscient awareness of all contributing factors, is able to mete out vengeance in a just manner. Because God’s justice is not just a rectifying of all human wrongs but a redemption of the created order in its entirety, we must not preempt the purposes of God, and steal away from him what can be rightly performed only by him. Otherwise, we just become more of the problem needing to be “fixed,” when it was intended that we be part of the solution.

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“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people” (Romans 12:18).

When Jesus said, blessed are the peacemakers, that they will be called sons of God (Mt. 5:9), he wasn’t speaking of those who desire and long for peace, but a people who labor intently for peace. As believers, while we can never be one with the culture, neither can we have a warring spirit toward those we are called to reach. Paul would even have us offer prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving in behalf of all people, including kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity (1 Tim. 2:1-2). Being belligerent, indignant, and always denouncing, is to give the impression we are fighting the world for common ground. We are not! We seek to lead others to Higher Ground, and it will not be accomplished by the warring attitudes and methodologies of the world.

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“Never repay evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all people” (Romans 12:17).

As Paul will state in verse 21, Jesus overcame evil with good. Constantly giving up his rights, and leaving vengeance to his Father would eventually cost him his life, but in so doing it became a benefit for all people. Seeking to repay the perpetrator of evil with evil is an individualistic expression birthed by the tyranny of the present. Ours is a unique opportunity to be a commendation for Christ, and the consequential benefactor of a greater good for all people. A moral people always seek to act for a greater common good and never the satisfaction of the moment. By this all members of a society are benefitted.

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“The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)!

Each of the four gospels open with an incarnational word…God in the flesh having been birthed into the world. From the accounting of this birthday, which we call Christmas, the gospels proceed immediately to the baptism of Jesus–the initiation of his public ministry. It’s an appropriate reminder to the church as to what we are to be about the day after celebrating Christmas. As he was born to sacrifice his life for us, we have been born-again to serve him.

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“And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest…’” (Luke 2:13-14).

To give glory to God is to acknowledge his preeminence; that he exceeds all others. This doxology is the climax of the Christmas story.  When the magnitude of this story is considered, it evokes our worship and praise. It was true of Mary, the shepherds, and the Magi. But what about you? Whatever else you might do this Christmas don’t forget to worship the One who made it all possible.

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“After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him.  Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).

They were truly wise. While we most often think of the Magi in connection with the gifts they offered, the greater wisdom is seen in the giving of themselves. Of the two verbs in this passage, “worshiped” and “presented”, that they worshiped is the most significant. The gifts of the wise men were incidental. The highlight is that they gave themselves to the King of kings.

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“Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation” (Romans 12:16).

All three admonitions within this verse emerge from a root word that means think. It refers to a common mindset of God’s people; not that we must think exactly the same on every topic, but that our attitudes toward one another are representative of a Kingdom people, who have been redeemed and are of a renewed mind only by the grace of God. James 2:1-6 makes it clear, there is no aristocracy in the church. God regards no differently those sipping champagne at the country club, and those guzzling ripple in the gutter. Nor should we.

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“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15)

In world where people rejoice at the misfortune of others, and resent their joyful triumphs, Paul holds forth a principle of mutuality that is to characterize the life of all who seek to follow Christ. Our interconnectedness as believers is a recurring theme in Paul’s writing; that if one member suffers, all the members suffer together; and if one member is honored, all the members rejoice together (1 Cor. 12:26). In so doing the fabric of community is strengthened; standing as a hedge against the concepts and ideas that bring about the demise of societies and nations: autonomy, individualism, self-esteem, self-expression. We, together, are the counter-cultural movement against the ever-present threat of a world that thinks only in terms of me and mine.

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