Archive for category Christian Life
“The Christian faith is about relationship.” Have you heard that? said that? There is truth in this idea. When we believe we become children of God and we are brothers and sisters with other believers.
However we need to be careful that we do not overemphasize relationship at the expense of truth. The relationship we have with God, and consequently with other believers, is founded on truth. If truth is missing, then so is the relationship.
We see this is Hebrews 2:1, “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” In Chapter 1, the author of Hebrews makes the case for the greatness and uniqueness of Jesus. The author begins 2:1 with “therefore” indicating that what he is about to say is a conclusion or a result of what he has said in Ch.1. The author then makes his charge. In light of the greatness and uniqueness of Jesus, we must pay much closer attention to the teaching (apostles, Jesus, prophets – the Bible) lest we drift away from it. He does not say lest we drift away from “him”, which would seem appropriate since he just talked about “him”. It would also seem appropriate if his primary concern was relationship. But he says “it”, the teaching, the truth, the Bible.
The revelation and truth about Jesus makes the Bible important. Our relationship with Jesus is based on the truth revealed in the Bible. So there is a direct correlation: if we drift away from the Bible, we drift away from him.
when we have done all we ever shall do, the very best state we ever shall arrive at, will be so far from meriting a reward, that it will need a pardon…If I was to live to the world’s end, and do all the good that man can do, I must still cry ‘mercy!’
Thomas Adam (1701-1784)
Look at Kevin DeYoung’s blog on Help for the Poor that really Helps for a quick statement about being discerning with our helping efforts or ministries. The table on “cost effectiveness per donated dollar” is helpful. Also, there are some helpful links which I will duplicate here:
1) the original article: “Cost-Effective Compassion: The 10 Most Popular Strategies for Helping the Poor” by Bruce Wydick;
Remember that the goal of helping others is to actually help them, not just for us to feel good about helping them.
“We never move on from the cross, only into a more profound understanding of the cross.” David Prior, quoted in The Cross Centered Life, by C.J. Mahaney
Thirty years after his conversion, the apostle Paul, in writing to his young disciple Timothy, has this to say, “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” (1 Timothy 1:15) Before his conversion, by his own acknowledgment he was a blasphemer for not recognizing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and he was a persecutor of the church. He is certainly referring to these things when he declares himself the foremost of sinners. But he does not say, “of whom I was the foremost”; but, “of whom I am the foremost.” He is evaluating himself in the present tense and he is looking to the cross as his hope.
Paul was a sinner, saved by grace. Paul was also a sinner, being perfected by grace. So are we. He hints at this in Galatians 3:3, “Having begun by the Spirit, are you know being perfected by the flesh?” “Being perfected” is a process, begun but not yet finished. The process begins when we hear the gospel and believe the gospel. The process continues until we are glorified with our Lord and Savior. Until then, we are sinners being perfected by grace.
If it depresses you to think that you are still a sinner, remember that you are meant to focus your eyes daily on the cross, on the love and mercy and grace that are found there in Jesus’ sacrifice for you. The life of the sinner being perfected by grace is the cross centered life.
Are we living in such a way that is compelling others towards a gospel of works and not a gospel of faith in Jesus Christ alone? How might this happen?
All of us have different gifts and personalities and are drawn towards different aspects of church life. Be careful of putting your confidence in your ‘christian resume’ rather than the evidences of God’s grace in your life. When you reflect on the question, ‘How am I doing?’, what comes to your mind? If the first thing or the only thing is a list of things you are doing for God or doing for the church, be careful.
‘How am I doing?’ should primarily result in a list of sins that I am gaining victory over, a list of biblical character qualities that I am developing, a list of the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) that are showing themselves in my life. Heart work is foundational to service. Make time each day for honest reflection before God and before his word, confessing any sin that is revealed and thanking Him for any good thing, for any growth seen, for any evidences of God’s grace.
As others see your life, may they be compelled towards the gospel of faith in Christ alone and to the God of the gospel.
It is always a treat to find a treasure where none was expected.
Tucked between two of the larger prophetic books in the Old Testament, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, is the book of Lamentations. According to Webster, a lamentation is an expression of sorrow, a cry of grief, an act of bewailing. The book expresses the mourning of the people of Israel because of the destruction of Jerusalem and their captivity in Babylon. The name says it all…or does it?
Tucked in the middle portion of the middle chapter of this book of laments, we find the following treasure:
Lam 3:21-24 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: (22) The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; (23) they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (24) “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
Let us remember that this was written by someone in the midst of captivity, in the land of his enemy. And yet, in the midst of these difficult circumstances, he thinks upon the character of his God: steadfast love, mercy, faithfulness. And he cries, “The Lord is my portion…therefore I will hope in him.”
Is the Lord your portion? If so, hope in him.
I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us.
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.
The first section shows Habakkuk deciding against his overwhelming feelings of fear to quietly wait on the fulfillment of God’s promises. This does not reflect his personality type but his faith.
The second section shows Habakkuk deciding against his bleak, hopeless circumstances to rejoice in the Lord. Habakkuk’s circumstances do not change during the book. This second choice does not reflect Habakkuk’s grit and determination but his faith.
How can Habakkuk do this? The third section tells us that it is because of his God-centered worldview. God is his strength and his salvation; even if his feelings don’t agree or his circumstances contradict.
We are tempted as Christians to underestimate the resources that God has provided us in Christ. Peter tells us that
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness,” 2 Peter 1:3.
And this is underscored in the promise implied by Paul in
Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
He is not talking here about a bigger house, or a new car. That is not the meaning of “all things.” Paul is referring to the “all things” from Peter; i.e., that pertain to life and godliness. And these “all things” include the faith to be able to decide against our feelings when they do not line up with truth, and to quietly wait on God. And they include the faith to be able to decide against our circumstances when they seem to contradict God’s promises, and to rejoice in the Lord who is the God of strength and our salvation.
Be encouraged and be strong in the Lord!