Monday, October 31, 2011
Dear John was truly in a bad way when his faith seemingly slipped. By all accounts he had lived a righteous life and now found himself in prison for doing nothing more than that which is right. As despondent as any of us might be in his situation, he sent his followers to ask a question that was critically important to him then as it is to us today.
This, however, is not about John's questions. It is about Christ's answer. Christ is not reported to have been annoyed at the question though he could easily have been. You see it was John that baptized him, witnessed the Holy Spirit landing on his head like a Dove and heard the voice of God verify that he indeed was His son. No, Christ answered with indulgence and evidence.
As much as this is about Christ's answer, it is about your answer. Most of us who have obeyed the gospel do a less than stellar job sharing that same gospel. It is like receiving a cure for a fatal disease and then refusing to share it with others who need it because we do not know how it works. Beloved, if you are fortunate enough to have someone ask about the source of your faith because of what they have observed in your walk, you do not have to be a theologian to answer the question. You only have to tell them what Christ has done and is doing in your life. Tell them about how far he has brought you from who you used to be and that even now, he is working in your life. Tell them about the different way you look at and respond to things based on what you have been taught by and about him. Tell them how you fell in love with him. Tell them what you have heard and seen.
Remarkably, this same information is not just an excellent answer, but it is also an excellent conversation starter.
Loving Like Jesus,
Friday, October 28, 2011
Whether you ever knew that the "Golden Rule" came from scripture or not, you will recognize this most basic tenant of both Christianity and humanity. It makes so much sense that it is difficult to fathom why we do not all ascribe to it.
We spend so much time being unhappy in our relationships. Usually this is because someone has done something to us or failed to do something for us. We start out being displeased, then upset, then disagreeable and then hostile. We begin to display un-Christ-like behavior and could potentially lose our faith altogether, not because of what Christ has or has not done, but because of man. Is our faith so weak? Are we so short sighted?
The real tragedy is that we often view ourselves as passive in these situations. We take the stance that these things just happen to us through no fault of our own. What we fail to do is to examine our role in relationships that are less than optimal and less than loving. We rarely ask ourselves the tough questions, "What could I have done to prevent this?" or "What can I do to fix it?"
Beloved if we spent more time being the friend that we desire, we might find that we would have the friends we desire.
- Do you want someone to celebrate your accomplishments with you? Celebrate with others.
- Do you want your birthday remembered? Acknowledge others'.
- Do you want to be forgiven when you offend? Be forgiving.
- Do you want help when it is needed? Lend a hand to someone else.
- Do you want visits or phone calls when you are down? Be there for your brothers and sisters.
- Do you want understanding? Provide it.
- Do you want to see God? Be His representative to those in your world.
It takes more effort to maintain grudges, to remember to be hard hearted and to remain angry than it does to cast those things off and decide to be happy. This is the way of God.
Loving Like Jesus,
Thursday, October 27, 2011
One of the many responsibilities of human resources professionals is to evaluate candidates for potential employment. This is a critical task in every business. The HR professional must evaluate a previously unknown individual to determine whether they would be an asset or a liability to the company. One of the most important tools used to accomplish this is known as behavioral interviewing. The theory behind this practice is, "The best predictor of future performance is past performance."
Beloved, we play the role of HR professional in our lives every day. The only reason we get on planes is because we've seen them take off and more importantly, land safely. We eat at restaurants where we do not actually see our food being prepared, because of the health department rating in every window. We believe in Jesus because he did what he said he would.
Jesus frequently told his disciples that he would give up his life but that he would take it up again. Though they did not fully understand it at the time (and Thomas not believing it all until he saw the ressurected Savior), they continued to follow him. They had seen him heal the sick, feed the hungry, minister to those in need, withstand hypocritical authorities and perform miracles never before seen. His performance lead to the establishment of their faith. They believed him so much that they completely changed their lives and began to live for him.
Jesus has said, "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also." John 14:2-3. On those rare occasions when your faith may get a little shaky, remember his past performance and look forward to his future performance. Jesus will do just what he said he would just as he always has.
Loving like Jesus,
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Most Christians and many non-Christians are familiar with the plight of Paul's thorn in the flesh. He attributes it to having visited heaven and witnessed things too amazing to describe. He then specifically states that the discomfort he was given (not a literal thorn in literal flesh) was given, for all intents and purposes, to keep him humble.
Beloved there are at least two messages here. To the Christian, the benefits of a relationship with God should be obvious. In fact, it would exceed the available space to even try to list them all, however, this would be a great place to pause and give quiet thought to how good God has been to you throughout your lifetime. That done, none of us have to look far to see those who have been so blessed by God that they think they have accomplished and acquired everything in and of themselves and therefore do not need God. These folks have missed the point entirely. In situations like this, it would be better to have some sort of reminder of both the hierarchy associated with our very existence and the source of every blessing than to lose sight of both because of His overwhelming goodness. One might think, "Why does such a reminder necessarily involve pain?" We should not assume that Paul's malady involved pain, however we know that whatever it was not only kept him in line but served as an example to others and glorified God. Have you ever been inspired by the faith of someone less fortunate than you?
To the non-Christian considering membership in God's family, it should be known that it is not all cookies and cream. God never promised us an easy row to hoe. In fact, there is full disclosure given regarding the difficulties that can be expected from faithfully living the Christian life. Our purpose in life is to glorify Him through our praise, worship, love, obedience and sharing with others. In so doing, we may become scuffed or inconvenienced, but the benefits of being a child of God are beyond imagination and eternal. Paul experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows, but learned ultimately to depend on God for everything and accept His will in all things. That is the purpose of the thorn.
Loving Like Jesus,
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Every morning we are blessed to see a new day. As some of us bound out of bed toward an invigorating cup of coffee and all the exciting tasks the day brings (or as some of us hang on to our pillows and the last shreds of unconsciousness as if it were the cure to all of life's ills), let us be reminded of what it means to wake up and get up. We do so because there is a time for sleeping and a time for waking. There is a time for resting and a time for working. There is a time for being still and a time for being active. Sleep, rest and stillness merely serve to recharge us for the things that must be done.
Beloved, far too often we clutch the pillow of neglect in our spiritual lives. Times when we are called to go to the harvest, visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, work while it is day and to rejoice and be glad in that day, we instead pull the covers over our heads while slapping the alarm clock to silence. In so doing, we are clinging to the darkness in our lives and it is a darkness from which we have been saved. In so doing, we are neglecting that salvation. The Hebrew writer asked rhetorically, "How shall we escape [just punishment]if we neglect so great a salvation?" Heb 2:3.
We must wake up and, as Jesus said, "Work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night comes when no man can work." John 9:4. Just as in the fable of the Grasshopper and the Ant, there will come a time when a season (or a lifetime) of idleness and improvidence will show up demanding payment, at which time it will be too late to attempt to get things done. Do you remember the people of Noah's time?
There are no easy chairs in the house of the Lord. Let us focus on accomplishing what we were saved to do. Let us rise with glad hearts, thankful for the blessing of waking and the ability to accomplish. And let us cheerfully seek and accomplish the work of the Lord. "For they that sleep sleep in the night: and they that are drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, since we are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love' and for a helmet, the hope of salvation." 1 Thes 5:7.
Loving Like Jesus,
Monday, October 24, 2011
It is no secret to any of us that we are but mortals. None of us in our current form will live forever. In fact, death is as much a part of life as living is. Though we experience fear, mourning, despair and sorrow at the thought of passing from this life, we also know that it is necessary in order to gain the next. The interesting thing is that as much as we may fear leaving this life, so many of us are dissatisfied with it.
Beloved, Jesus has told us that he has gone to prepare a place for us. Paul has informed us that the "perishable must put on the imperishable" in order to gain heaven. These to facts alone should fill us with confidence that where we are now is not where we will ultimately be. Though we were placed on this earth for a time and given things we must accomplish in the service of the Lord, this life is nowhere near what is meant for the Christian.
Let us remember that these fallible bodies, subject to all kinds of defects and breakdowns are temporary vessels to one day be replaced with perfect ones. The pains of this world will not last always. Let us remember that this fallible existence full of all kinds of discomforts, temptations and unwholesome desires will be replaced by the presence of the Father. Let us look forward to an upgrade that is out of this world.
Loving Like Jesus,
Friday, October 21, 2011
It is important that we know God is intimately involved in our individual and corporate lives. We are his people and He is our God. He knows all, can do everything and is everywhere at all times. Having created us, He has chosen to provide for us, forgive us, extend His grace and mercy to us and even take on flesh to live among us. He indeed is in the midst of our very lives.
In this context, His purpose is revealed in one of His many names, Jehovah-Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts, our Protector, Psa 46:7. Not only is He present, but He is actively engaged in establishing a hedge of safety around us. You will recall, however, that where God is, sin cannot be. Moses was required to remove his shoes when He was on holy ground. When Jesus asked, "Why have you forsaken me?" it was because God could not be where sin was, even to comfort His own son on whose shoulders the sins of the world hung.
Beloved, we should not be under any illusion that anything has changed. God is still holy and still requires holiness of us. We must be ever diligent as it relates to our individual lives and the lives of our congregations. God will not be where sin is and where God is not actively protecting, the enemy can walk right in and destroy. Do not be caught dead without Him.
Loving Like Jesus,
Thursday, October 20, 2011
This passage of scripture immediately follows an effort by a certain man to entertain guest at a fabulous feast. In this analogy of heaven, each of the invited guest had an excuse as to why they could not make it. One had just bought land he needed to survey, another bought oxen that had to be tried and still another had just married a wife.
Beloved, the cares of this world will cost many their heavenly reward. God has invited us to the biggest banquet imaginable. Can you imagine not being willing to go because of materialism? You will recall the rich young ruler that walked away from the heaven he sought because of the earthly possessions he was unwilling to leave behind.
Those who do not live a life of opulence have no such hindrances. The certain man commanded that the less fortunate be sought to attend the banquet, ensuring that it would not go to waste. I observed on a mission trip last year that it was not the well to do that were coming to the Lord, but those who have no one else on whom to depend. The maimed, halt, hungry and blind lined up for hours to get medical and dental attention. They also received the word of God. It is amazing how many of them believe.
As for those who would make excuses, "For I say unto you that none of those men that were bidden shall taste of my supper." Luke 14:24
Loving Like Jesus
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
God's wisdom is so amazing. Though He is a God whose ways are as higher than ours as the heaven's are above the earth, He has always chosen to communicate and relate to us in ways that we could understand. In fact, John 1:14 states that He even put on flesh and dwelt among us. He has done everything to equip us to know Him.
In His fleshly state, He often taught in parables. The commonly understood definition of a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Even a cursory examination of the parables involve things such as sheep, farming, relationships between relatives, banquets, the poor, etc. These were all things that were then and in some cases now. We all come into contact with most of them almost daily. These stories, however, were designed to relate the principles of Christianity and godliness.
There was one small problem. There were some who either could not or would not understand. When the apostles asked why he even spoke in parables, he replied, "Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. " In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, 'YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING,BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.' But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear." Matt 13:13-16.
Beloved, on our personal journey to both a meaningful relationship with our Savior and to heaven, the first step is believing what we have been told about him. We must believe he gospel message. We must believe that He is. We then can go on to spiritual maturity which will allow us to shed the earthly in favor of the heavenly. Let us not disdain our eternal inheritance by wrestling over that which should be obvious, Rom 1:20.
Loving Like Jesus,
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
You may recall that Moses, having escaped from Egypt, found himself in Midian. Through the course of time, he was called by the Angel of the Lord to the mountain of the Lord before the burning bush and introduced to God in a most unique and memorable way. He was then given marching orders to free God's people from the yoke of slavery. It is at this point that Moses began to offer excuses.
Beloved, we have the same problem to this day. God, through the sacrifice of Jesus has called us out of darkness and saved us from everlasting spiritual death. He has restored us to a right relationship and standing with him despite the fact that we deserve death. He then asks us to play a role in freeing others from the slavery of sin and darkness and we begin making excuses. "I'm too busy." "I don't know what to say." "I'm not really a people person." "I don't know enough."
When Moses began offering excuses, God said, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?" Exo 4:11. Moses was to understand that he was being charged by an omnipotent God who can accomplish all things. His feeble excuses were nothing to overcome for the Creator.
Regardless of what we think our abilities and shortcomings are, God has made and equipped each of us for His work. He requires nothing of us that is outside of the abilities He has given us. In short, "If God brings you to it, God will bring you through it."
Loving Like Jesus,
Monday, October 17, 2011
So often we find our selves relaying information. In fact, our society would not be what it is (particularly in the most positive sense) without communication. These days communication is virtually instantaneous. Any major event that happens anywhere around the world can be found on cable news networks, the Internet, Facebook or Twitter within minutes. Even our television news reports are crowded with additional information streaming across the tops and bottoms of our screens.
The question must be asked, however, what really is being said? Beloved, the fruit of our lips should be professions of the goodness of God. Time and breath would not allow us to share everything the Lord has done and is doing for us, but nothing prevents us from trying. If we sat and really thought about where and what we are in the Lord versus where and what we were in the world, we could fill libraries with our testimony.
Satan gets more than enough press. Our great and mighty God's love for us endures forever. Let his redeemed make it known from the neighborhood to the mountain tops.
Loving Like Jesus,
Friday, October 14, 2011
Contextually speaking, Paul was making a case regarding the ability to eat any foods. During these tumultuous times, there was much controversy about this and other things as people transitioned from observing the law of Moses to living under grace. People had been under a set of rules for thousands of years that involved not eating meat that was unclean or had been sacrificed to idols. Many had chosen to eat no meat at all in an effort to avoid even the possibility of committing such a sin. This was a hot issue at the time because both Jews and Gentiles were converting to Christianity and they came from polar opposite belief systems. Jews worshipped the one true God and followed the Law while Gentiles often served pagan deities without the restrictions of Judaism. This, then, caused some of the controversy (See Romans 14 and 15).
The twofold point that is being made is that 1) all that God has created that serves as food is suitable to be eaten and 2) that in an effort to help preserve the faith of a brother or to attract one to Christ, it is okay, even recommended to suspend the liberty we have that we might accomplish the will of God.
Likewise today, much is lawful to us in which we need not participate because of the possible effect on those seeking God. One example would be the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Though much can and typically is said about this issue, consuming a fermented beverage is not a sin (as long as you do not do so to excess). However, there are those outside the body that may observe us enjoying libations and immediately decide that Christianity is not for them because we are hypocritical. Clearly this stance comes from a lack of knowledge, but perception is reality. So in this instance, it is lawful for us to consume but not profitable for the cause of Christ.
Beloved we have liberty in Christ. He came that we might have life and that more abundantly. We have though, the power and perhaps even the responsibility to set that abundant liberty aside for the accomplishment of the greater good. Show first then teach.
Loving Like Jesus,
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
The truth is that bad things do happen to good people. In this passage, Joseph, having been sold into slavery by his brothers, now finds himself in jail after having been wrongly accused by his master's wife. Particularly tragic is that the scripture records no instance of him doing wrong nor having a bad attitude about his plight.
Beloved, it is the way of life to have both good and bad occur in your life. We celebrate the good and lament the less than fortunate things. The admonition is to trust God, come what may. Likewise, should we find ourselves suffering, let it not be for doing wrong, but for doing what is right.
Though Joseph found himself in slavery, then jail, God was always with him and used these difficult circumstances to prepare him for His work. Throughout his life he developed a talent for administration, wisdom and the communication of God's will. He was loyal, brave, steadfast, honorable, trustworthy and committed. In the end, God rewarded him by elevating him to the highest heights of Egyptian life and through him, saved and grew a nation.
Let us follow his example. Let us not become weary in well doing. God has promised to lift us up as well.
Loving Like Jesus,
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
It is a well known biblical account that Peter was the only man other than Jesus to walk on water. It is important to note, however, that there are important facts surrounding the event:
- They were physically separated from Christ when the storms arose in that he had gone to pray and sent them ahead. The account as recorded by Mark in 6:48 reveals that Jesus was aware. Let us take heart that Jesus is always aware of our condition, whether stormy or bright.
- Christ came to them walking on the water. It is important that we know, understand and believe that our Lord, by whom nothing that was made was made, is the master of space, time and the elements. He can walk across and through the storms that terrify us, not simply for the sake of doing it, but to get to us. Let us take heart that Jesus never forsakes us.
- The disciples were terrified at his appearance, imagining him to be a ghost. Far too often we fail to recognize his presence. We mistake him for fate, destiny, providence, luck and happenstance. He is none of these things. Let us take heart that our Lord is a deliberate savior who has not given us the spirit of fear but of love, power and a sound mind.
- Peter had enough faith to leave the relative safety of the boat to walk on the waves his master controls. With faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains. We just need to learn to rely on God instead of ourselves. Let us take heart that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
- Peter took his eye off the Lord and began to succumb to the storm. Jesus is a bright and shining light. Whenever we remove our gaze and become distracted by the darkness, we are in danger of being overcome by it. Let us take heart that Jesus is the light of the world and in him there is no darkness.
- According to the account in Mark, they welcomed him into the boat and the storm ceased immediately. According to the account in John, they were then immediately at their destination. Know that things are better in the company of the Lord than out of the company of the Lord. Though we will all endure adversity from time to time, we are never alone. If we welcome him into our lives, he will eventually guide us to our destination. Take heart that he has prepared a place for us, that where he goes, we may be also.
Beloved, think on these things in times of trial and tribulation. Think on them more in times of peace and prosperity.
Loving Like Jesus,
Monday, October 10, 2011
We live in a choice driven world. Everyone seems to want to either blaze their own trail and go their own way or chose from a plethora of trails to get to a common destination. We seek to distinguish ourselves by being different than the next person. For this reason standards become diluted. Whereas this human trait may be responsible for many of the advances we have achieved, when it comes to salvation, there has only ever been one way.
Beloved, Jesus is the doorway through which we must enter in order to gain our heavenly home. He emphatically states in Jn 14:6, "I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes to the Father except through me." Though we change, the Way does not. The Hebrew writer offers, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." The standard has been established and is accessible to everyone who chooses to follow Him. Many will espouse different ways to reach paradise but make no mistake, the only road map, established by God, gives one route and one route only. Let us follow the ultimate GPS (God Positioning System) and share the directions with others.
Loving Like Jesus,
Friday, October 7, 2011
For those who know me personally, you are aware that I am currently pursuing a Masters of Arts in Religion with an emphasis in Biblical Studies. With all of my other responsibilities, you might correctly imagine that it is very demanding. So if you see a tad bit of inconsistency in timing and delivery or an an unusual amount of reposts, prayerfully you will understand why. I give praise to God, however, that I am learning something new every day. Some of that learning is shared with you through this and other forums.
Having said all of that beloved, I thought I'd share with you a not untypical assignment from a course on apologetics. My classmates and I were asked to discuss the relationship between works and salvation from an apologists (evangelistic) point of view.
Loving Like Jesus,
If works do not provide salvation, then what role do they play in the Christian life?
Most individuals are taught from an early age that in order to obtain a desired thing, status or way of life, it must be earned through work. After the fall in the Garden of Eden, God established the necessity to work, even to eat, when He said to Adam, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground.” The desire of the eye, the needs of the body, and the demands of the ego are not to be confused with the way to salvation. Despite the fact that some teach that salvation is to be earned through works, no works can be done that can accomplish what Jesus has already done, however works can and should be done because of salvation and these will be rewarded on earth and in heaven.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses boast a membership of over six and a half million. Each of these individuals have been taught that, “Door-to-door witnessing, conducting Bible ‘studies’ and remaining obedient to the ‘faithful and discreet servants’ (leadership of the Watchtower) are all necessary for salvation.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses are just one example of a salvation by works theology. An examination of the scriptures reveals this type of doctrine to be false.
It is only through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus the Christ that salvation can be obtained. Romans 5:8-9 reveals that it was Christ’s death that provides us with justification and salvation from the wrath of God. Further, Paul writes, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Isaiah presses the point of the uselessness of righteous acts by stating, all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” Scripture frequently points out that salvation cannot be earned by human effort but only through that which Jesus accomplished on our behalf.
Though works themselves do not save, works can and should be pursued because of salvation. Paul wrote to the saved Christians at Philippi with instructions to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purposes.” The Greek word for “work out” (katergazomai) means to fashion or render one fit for a thing. In essence, Paul, in his letter to the congregation is telling them that while he is gone, they are to continue doing the things that God has placed in them as His children that He may be pleased and that they may be an example. This would help them live up to the salvation which they had already received.
Although works do not save, there is a beneficial earthly and heavenly reward that can be obtained through them. Timothy was told to, “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasures for themselves as a firm foundation for that coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” By doing good works, Christians not only obtain the good feeling of helping others, they also add to their promised reward. The point is further made in Eph 6:7-8 when Paul writes, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.”
There is certainly a value to doing good works; however, salvation is not the result of them. An everlasting existence with the Father is only available through the atoning work of Jesus, but works should be pursued because of salvation, as well as the earthly and heavenly benefit. The human psychology of earning what a person gets is admirable. This is also a biblical teaching in that it is written, “if any would not work, neither should he eat.” This doctrine does not, however, extend to salvation. To teach that it does devalues the life, teaching, death, burial and resurrection of the son of God.
Hindson, Ed, and Ergun Caner, eds. The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.
Horton, David, ed. The Portable Seminary. Grand Rapids: Bethany House, 2006.
 Gen 3:19 (NIV).
David Horton, ed., The Portable Seminary (Grand Rapids: Bethany House, 2006), 419.
Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner, eds., The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2008), 292.
1 Tim 6:18-19.
2 Thes 3:10.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Christ uttered this statement after wandering through the city blessing and healing the people and noticing that they were "harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." To this day, there remains harassed and helpless people that are in need, yet without leadership, love or hope.
Within the context of this scripture, we Christians are not those sheep. In fact, we are the workers that are few. Many of us forget that we are the called according to His purpose. We are not called to be "resters," "sitters," "talkers," "vacationers," "loafers," "slackers" or "sluggards" but workers. We must remember that, "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." Eph 2:10. We were created for a purpose and the meaning of life is to live out that purpose.
Beloved we should have the compassion of Christ. We should see the same thing he does; a sin sick world in need of healing, a bounty in need of harvesting. We should be ever busy accomplishing His will, for the bible has said that we must work while it is day, for night comes when no man can work. Let us do all that we can while we can to share Christ with others as was done for us.
Loving Like Jesus,
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
This scripture has been used as source of strength for many despite the fact that is often taken out of context. What comes immediately to mind is its use by athletes going into competition, most notably boxers. Sometimes, both boxers or contestants are wearing the same scripture. While reliance on God is admirable, what does it say to the wearer and the audience if there is a loss? Can one NOT do all things with the strength of the Lord?
Beloved, it is important that we understand what the author was trying to convey to his original audience when we read, study and use scripture. In this case, Paul was in prison. He was relaying via messenger to the church at Philippi that he was well. He admitted that his situation was a bit tough at the moment but also talked about the times things were fantastic. His point was that he had learned how to be content in both the best and worst circumstances. He gives Jesus the credit for giving him this ability.
With the proper understanding of this famous passage, we too can use it for strength in situations when we are on the mountain top as well as when we are in the valley. We, like Paul, have been divinely equipped, not to win the next ball game, but the next spiritual battle, the next seemingly hopeless situation, the next despair and the next prosperous situation (which for some is handled worse than tough times).
Loving Like Jesus,
Monday, October 3, 2011
How seldom we do meditate on the greatness of God. He is the one that formed all that there is simply by speaking it into existence. From the greatest galaxy full of the most stars to the smallest component of the atom, our Father is the creative force and the power behind it all. And there, at the pinnacle of His creation, stand we, former mounds of dirt, without whose living breath, would still be just dirt.
He is a God that has provided everything pertaining to life. There is nothing that we need that he does not supply. He provides us with love, assurance, protection sustenance, a savior, a body to which to belong and an inheritance. He guides our footsteps and answers our prayers. He cares for us more than any of us know.
Why then do we focus so much more on the things provided than the Provider? All too often, we fit the description of those, "whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things." Phil 3:19. It is the material and temporal that become our lower case gods; gods that cannot save nor provide. It is by these gods that we become acquainted with the idolatry we so often read about in the word.
Beloved God is greater than any created thing. God is greater than we can know or imagine. Let us not live below our privilege but live up to it by praising, worshipping and serving Him with whom we have to do. Let us reflect on His greatness.
Loving Like Jesus,