Archive for April, 2023


“The world is passing away and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God continues to live forever” (1 John 2:17).

We all sense it; the death of a world everyone so desperately wants to hold on to. Truth is, because of the fleeting nature of this temporal realm, it was a world you were barely holding on to anyway. Paul recognized this, telling believers that whatever your current state—weeping, rejoicing, privileged, or impoverished—“the present form of this world is passing away” (1 Cor. 7:31). Knowing that what is will soon no longer be, teaches us to live more fully in the present, pursuing that which is virtuous, just, kind, and humble. These are the things that last (Mi. 6:8).

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“Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called” (1 Corinthians 7:24).

In whatever circumstances we were found upon our conversion, this becomes the starting place for faithful living. The life of faith isn’t so much about changing our circumstances as it is redeeming our circumstances. If my call is to bring honor and glory to the Father as I face the ever-changing circumstances of life, then I must bloom where I am planted.

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“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith” (Matthew 6:30)!

As believers, to speak of faith is to say we know our Heavenly Father and we are known by him. Even so, the life of faith can be filled with contradictions, alternating between victorious living and frightened failure. As such, this qualifies us to be counted among those of “little faith.”  Yet, it is our faith that informs and convicts us that we are born (again) for more than this. God does not abandon little faith, but nurtures it and completes it on the Day of The Lord.

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“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). 

These are the final reflections of a life lived dutifully. Duty is fulfilled by those who answer the call and pursue it with a level of such devotion, it will not be distracted by the preferential desires of the masses. It seeks to inspire, challenge, and elevate those around them. Consider the message of Horatio Nelson to the British fleet at the onset of the Battle of Trafalgar:“England expects every man will do his duty.” When he lay dying from a mortal wound just three hours later, Nelson uttered the words, “Thank God I have done my duty.” The words from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar will always ring true, “Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.” Only when life has been lived dutifully can one really die well.

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“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a person sows, this he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

In similar fashion, someone has stated well, “Few men of accomplishment get there by things happening to them. They are what has happened.” It’s the difference between a victor or victim’s mentality and approach to life. We either live victoriously by the agency of God’s Spirit, in the disciplined and sustained pursuit of the life he has empowered us to live, or we live as hapless victims, allowing the agency of circumstances and negative personalities to determine what we are becoming. Sowing and reaping, victor or victim, these are choices only you can make.

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“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).

When it comes to staying the course and doing one’s best, we all need a little incentive. The contracts of professional athletes have incentive clauses, rewarding them for attaining certain milestones. The apostle Paul would utilize athletics as a metaphor for the sacrifice to be exemplified by those competing for the victors crown (1 Cor. 9:25). Reflecting upon his own faith journey, and what appeared to be his impending death, it was the anticipation of receiving the crown of righteousness that sustained Paul in his most difficult circumstances (2 Tim. 4:6-8). Even Jesus, who, for the joy set before him, endured the cross (Heb. 12:2). The promise to those who persevere is an imperishable prize.

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“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).

The blessed state existence promised to the people of God is based upon the premise of an enduring obedience to the faith, even in the most strenuous of times. While, certainly, the love of God for all humanity is unconditional, there is, with no less certainty, conditional expectations of those who would be his people. From the most ancient of days, this sense of conditionality between God and his people is a recurring theme—obey and be blessed; disobey and be cursed (Deut. 27:9-10, 15; 28:4). This expectation can be traced through the teachings of Jesus; evident in his praise of one group for their behaviors, while denouncing another group for their failure to exhibit the desired behaviors (Lk. 6:20-26); even making clear that it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved (Mk.13:13; Mt.10:22). For every promise that can be claimed in scripture, there is a premise upon which it is based.

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“Blessed is a man…” (James 1:12).

Blessed, from makarios, is a word that means fortunate, happy, contented, fulfilled, purposed. For James, blessed is linked to joy (v.2) and glory (v.9); a state of existence that sees not only the formative work of God in one’s present and unchanging trials but, also, offers an eschatological view, enabling one to anticipate the final outcome of God’s providential purposes, the actualization of God’s justice, and the vindication of faith. It is a promise that sustains us today for tomorrow.

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“Freely you received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8).

Sent out among those who have nothing, and can offer nothing in return, is the best reminder that the One who brought salvation did so among us whose lives were impoverished by sin, with no righteousness to offer. Thus, the gift we did not deserve asks only that we give to others what we ourselves have received. Those rich in grace have a desire to pass it on.

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“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul” (Matthew 16:26)?

It is chilling to contemplate that the human soul is a possession that can be forfeited or exchanged. And for what? The implication of Jesus is that there is no more precious commodity than the soul; that even if the entire world could be gained it would be of no value in comparison to the soul of a person. An interesting contrast to this passage is Paul’s view that the only gain to be had is in dying; that profit is realized by departing from this world to be with Christ (Phil.1:21-22).

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