Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Saints Together

READ 1 Corinthians 1-2
February 23, 2016

Again, as so often happens in my readings, one word grabs me and stops me cold with implications that are profound. It happened this morning in v.2.

“To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:”

Before I move on, do you think you can pick out the word that stopped me this morning? Could it be church, sanctified, saints, Lord, Jesus or Christ? Well, all of those would have been great ones to meditate on for a while, but none of them is the word this morning. No, the word that stopped me was “together.” Actually the whole phrase must be included. Paul said that he was writing to a group of Christians who were “called to be saints together.” Immediately my thinking went to the church born out of the Day of Pentecost in the 2nd chapter of Acts. Luke tells us, “And all who believed were together and had all things in common.” (Acts 2:44)

That’s it. That’s the church! We are not called to be saints in isolation; we are called to be saints together. Why? Because we really do need one other. We must love one another and build up one another and be kind to one another and bear one another’s burdens and all the other one anothers of the Bible. The church is the context in which we live out these wonderful, encouraging commands.

So let’s do it. Let’s be a part of one another’s lives and live together in love and harmony in the Lord.

Prayer: Father, thank you that in your marvelous plan for us you gave us the church. Though we know that each of us is an imperfect saint we know that in your grace we can build up one another. Help us to consider others as more important than ourselves and to be the body of Christ to one another.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Some truths are just too big for our minds to fully comprehend

READ John 17-18

Who did Jesus pray for in the upper room? Let’s see what he says. In 17:9 he clearly states that he is not praying for the world. Rather he is praying for those whom the Father has given him. So this prayer is only for those who were a gift from the Father to the Son before the foundation of the world.

Does this include more than the apostles? See 17:20. “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.” So, if he is only praying for those who were a gift from the Father and this prayer includes all who will believe based on the words of the Apostles, then he is praying for every believer today. And that means… every believer today was a gift from the Father to the Son before the foundation of the world.

Jesus has given eternal life to everyone the Father gave him. (17:3)
Jesus manifests the Father’s name, i.e. who he really is, to those whom the Father gave him. (17:6)
Jesus prays for those whom the Father gave him. (17:9)
Jesus asks the Father to keep those whom he has given him after his ascension. (17:11)
Jesus wants those whom the Father has given him to be with him through eternity. (17:24)

Think about who you are in Christ, friends! Glory!

Prayer: Father, it is a bit mind-boggling for us to contemplate that you chose us and presented us as a love gift to your Son before all of creation. Before we existed in time and space, we were chosen as a part of your forever family and presented by you to your Son. And he came to die for us and bear the penalty of our sin. Father, this is too big for us. Help thou our unbelief!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Peace...in the midst of the storm...right now

READ John 15-16

Where is the source of our peace? When we are faced with difficult times, difficult situations, difficult people — where do we turn to for peace? Do we turn to medication to mask our discomfort? Do we turn to other people for their comfort? Where do we turn?

Jesus makes it clear that our peace is in him. It is not to be found in this world. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (16:33) We are to rest in him and the certainty of our life in him for our peace.

Remember the Gospel. We were under the curse of the tribulation of our own sin. Christ died bearing all those sins in his own body on the cross. His death redeemed us from our sin. He rose from the dead displaying his full victory over the final enemy death and verifying exactly who he is as Lord of Lords and King of Kings. One day he is coming to take us to where he is for eternity. Peace…in the midst of tribulations…in the midst of the storm…right now.

Prayer: Father, help me to face the tribulation of this world in the peaceful grasp of my loving Savior. Help me father, to trust you, and not the situations that I face. Help me to rest in you.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Walking Home in Faith

READ John 3-4

My curiosity often comes into play as I read the Bible because of things we are not told. Obviously, these are things that are not necessary for us to know in order to understand, but they are still things that spark our curiosity. Such is the case as I read the story of the official’s son being healed in 4:46-54. At this point in the gospel of John Jesus has only done one miracle. He turned the water to wine at the wedding in Cana (2:11). Now in Chapter 4 he returns again to Cana and does his second miracle (4:54).

Here are the events recorded. He arrives in Cana. An official with a sick son lives in Capernaum about 7-8 hours walking distance away at the least. The official comes to Cana to ask Jesus to heal his son. So here’s where my curiosity peaks. First, in a town that far away how did he even know that Jesus had returned to Galilee? Second, had Jesus’ reputation spread that much already simply from the one miracle at the wedding? Did the man know Jesus only as a possible miracle worker? (This is highly likely based on 4:48) It’s not hard to imagine the father of a dying son being willing to go wherever was needed for his child’s welfare, but what were the circumstances that prompted him to walk all the way to Cana?

But there is another greater truth hinted at in the man’s behavior. Jesus told him his son was healed at 1:00 in the afternoon. The Bible says that he “believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.” (4:50) Notice, when his servants came to tell him his son was healed he was still traveling and it was the next day (see 52). If he was uncertain, he would probably have rushed back and made the 7-8 trip in a few hours the same day. But, evidently, he was in no hurry? Why? Here’s where we see his faith manifested. He was walking the unhurried walk of a man who believed Jesus.

I’m reminded of later in John when Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God; believe also in me.” (14:1) Troubles will surely come, but we don’t have to be troubled when we believe Jesus.

Prayer: Father, help me to be like that official. Help me always to come to you with every need of life. Help me always to turn to you first for your divine help. And help me to trust in you and live reflecting that calm trust in you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Spiritual Studs

READ Luke 17-18

A common occurrence in the Gospels is for Jesus to tell a parable that the disciples don’t understand. Afterward we find them asking what does this parable mean? But in Ch. 18 Luke reverses this pattern. He relates two of the parables of Jesus and, before he gives them, he tells us what the meaning and purpose of the parables are. Notice this is v. 1 and v. 9. I want to focus on the second for a moment.

“He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt.” (18:9) It seems rather obvious that he is addressing the Pharisees. And quickly we can discern what the essence of Pharisaical thinking was: spiritual self-confidence and arrogance. The clear statement of intent makes this obvious and the parable follows to pointedly show the wrongness of the Pharisee’s thinking and actions.

I wonder how often today we fall into the trap of Pharisaism? How often do we think of ourselves as having arrived spiritually? I think there’s an easy answer to that question. The first key to whether we are trusting in ourselves that we have arrived spiritually is when we have thoughts that we are more spiritual than someone else. Any time we fall prey to looking down our spiritual noses at anyone else, we are thinking of ourselves as spiritual studs.

Avoid it! Recognize it! Run from it. Let us beat on our breasts and cry out, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” For, as is so true, there but for the grace of God go I.”

Prayer: Father, apart from your mercy and grace I am nothing. I deserve hell because I’m a filthy sinner before you. But you, Lord, in your love plucked me from the pit and gave me life with you. To you be all the praise! None of it goes to me. Thank you for your grace that chose me for yourself because, in my sin, I would never have chosen you.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The List

READ Luke 3-4

Do you find yourself tempted to jump over the genealogies in the Bible? I admit it. I do. Oh, sure there are some nuggets of gold to be found in these genealogies but normally they read like public records at the court house.

But I found myself slowly reading the genealogy in 3:23ff this morning. One significant fact stood out to me as I read. Most of these names I had never heard of before, at least apart from this biblical record. I have no idea who they were or what they did with their lives. But then the thought struck me: what was the one most significant fact about each of these people? I think the answer is in the genealogy itself. They made the list! The primary purpose of their life was to be in a long line that got the Savior into the world as God had promised.

Think of another significant list. The disciples had been sent out by Jesus and returned with glowing reports and excitement about the fact that even the demons obeyed them. Jesus reminded them of the most important thing: “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (10:20) The most important thing is do you make the list?

Years from now when we are dead and gone no one will remember someone named Walter Price who lived most of his life in Beaumont, CA, and made very little impact on the world. Whatever he may have done of significant consequence is known only to God. But the one question that will matter at that time is very simple, “Is his name on the list?” (cf Philippians 4:3; Revelation 20:15) How about you? Is your name included?

Prayer: Father, there is only one way that my name could have been added to your book of life — by your grace alone for me. Not by any works or worthiness on my part, simply by your grace alone. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for my Savior who purchased by redemption. Thank you for giving me your life.