Monday, June 28, 2010

Will You Live by Faith?

Is there more to life than this? Have you ever asked, “Is this it?” All of us have probably asked that question at one time or another. Frustration and disappointment make for quick friends and can stay longer than they’re welcome. These feelings especially seem to appear when we count on our own abilities. Everyone’s intellect and strength are limited, but often we act like they are limitless. This is when frustration and disappointment usually come calling.

Many of us get stuck, though, thinking that this life is about what we can accomplish or acquire. When those things fail to bring lasting satisfaction we find ourselves stuck in a rut. Followers of Jesus fall in this trap as well. We have tried to limit what God can do to what we can do. Sure we pray for miracles and expect great things from Him, but the truth is that we don’t live very faith-dependent lives regularly. Rarely do we take great risks that only God can achieve. Rarely do we actually live on faith.

Friend, do not be mistaken. We cannot earn God’s forgiveness or impress Him to win His favor. Peace with God comes only through His gracious forgiveness made available to Christians through the life, substitutionary death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We only know His strength, favor and power through faith when we turn away from our self-sufficiency and live dependently upon Him.

It is a strange concept. When children grow up we mark their maturity by their independence. When Christians grow in the faith the Bible marks their maturity by their dependence upon God. We are never supposed to aim at self-sufficiency. That is not a flaw in humanity; it is God’s design.

If you are weary because you’ve been trying to earn God’s favor or you’ve been trying to supply all your own needs please know there is good news. God desires to lift your burden. He desires to bring you gracious aid. You must turn to Him though. You must work by His plan. You must give Him control of your life and abide with Him through the changes He will make to your planning, decision-making and scorekeeping. There is more to life than meets the eyes. Bring your dissatisfaction to God and see what He will do with it.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Will You Be There?

Where will you be on this day?

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revelation 7:9-17

Monday, June 07, 2010

Earnest Love

Earnest Love
June 7, 2010

Earnest is a word that we don’t use much. I hear it occasionally and even use it sometimes, but I don’t think about its definition very often. Honestly, I thought it meant to be really serious. However, I have recently discovered that the Bible uses this word in a different way.

In 1 Peter 1:22-25, Peter talks about the love that Christians should have for one another that eventually spills over to those that are not followers of Jesus. It is there that our word of the day appears. Peter says that Christians are to love one another earnestly. If the definition of earnest was serious it would make sense when Peter speaks of this love, but he intends more.

In this use of the word earnest Peter has the word sacrifice in mind. In this context he is using a word that was often used when people talked of skin stretching across a bone. He wants the reader to think about stretching or being caused to stretch. When was the last time you loved someone to the point that is caused you to sacrifice or be stretched?

We may love others, but it is rare that we are willing to be stretched in showing that love. It isn’t very often that we are willing really take a risk to show our love to others. When was the last time you risked your reputation, your money or your possessions to show love to someone else? When was the last time you stretched yourself to the limit to show love to God?

When we take risks it is often because we believe we are going to get something in return. That is not the way of love. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13, ESV)

God models this earnest love for us. Heaven stretched to earth to show the love of God. Jesus sacrificed His life on the cross to show His love. Will you receive that love? Will you reflect that love? May you do so earnestly.