Sunday, October 14, 2018

Quite a Blessing!

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude)
Every week.  Almost every week for his over 30 years of ministry my dad prayed this blessing and benediction over the people.  I don't remember it ever becoming stale or monotonous or routine for him.  It is quite a blessing. To God be the glory, majesty, dominion and authority which is His, which he deserves, and which we we some day see in all of His eternal perfection. It is into His hands that we entrust ourselves and one another. He is able. He is able to keep us from stumbling and falling (the old King James translation). Christ is able to present us to the Father with joy, as overcomers who trust in Him.  He has made us part of His Big Story of Salvation, which someday we will be able to see from above, not below.  This blessing puts life, and its bumps, in persepective and keeps us going. We do not walk alone. He is there to hang on to so we don't stumble. He will get us to the end of the journey. Just keep walking and talking with Him. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Good Examples

11 Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. 12 Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself. We also add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true. (III John)
In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul talks about the things in Scripture written for our example.  What he was referring to were the people of the Old Testament - some did good, some did very evil.  In the ongoing Big Story of God, we then see how these things affected others - both immediately and over time.  We also are examples. Those of us who claim to be the people of God make an impact - good or evil - on those around us, and on those who follow.  Like Demetrius, may we have a good reputation to follow based on what we have done - being compared not to other imperfect people like us, but to the Truth itself.  

Friday, October 12, 2018

The More Lost Art

12 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete. (II John)
I have heard of letter-writing being referred to as a "lost art." What used to be used for everything from official sealed documents sent by courier from one official to another, to love letters sent across the ocean to and from husband and wife separated by war, have now been replaced by texts, tweets, snapchats and the ancient email.  There is no lasting document to attest to the history of relationships.  But there is one form of communication equally on the verge of extinction: face to face talk.  Often even the written word of a letter can be misinterpreted and misunderstood, without body language and looking one another in the eye. This is the deepest form of communication, which John hoped to take place - for his recipients to be able to see his love, his passion, and his desire for their good.  Who have you been putting off going to see face to face? Don't let it be lost. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Live What You Know

18 We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.
19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. (I John 5)
John's writings are considered by many to be the easiest to read and simplest to understand in Scripture. We often encourage new believers to read his Gospel. Yet, it is often the simplest things we forget, overlook, and fail to follow. We know that sin is inconsistent with following a sinless Savior. We know that we are opposed by someone who wants us to sin and surrounds us with temptation and his tempters. And we know that our Saviour has given us the ability to see through those temptations and lies.  But the closing command should hit us in between the eyes: "Keep yourselves from idols."  Based on these truths we "know", make conscious, intentional choices to follow Christ, obey God, and not put any of these tempting idols before worshiping Him. Simple, yes. Easy, no. Seek Him and His righteousness above all else; protect yourself today. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Diligence, not Doom

14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
(II Peter 3)
Peter had shared a number of negative things about what would happen before Christ's return: people will behave badly, believers will be persecuted, the world will fall apart.  But our response never should be to fall apart and be people of doom and gloom. As followers of Christ we should demonstrate such patience, persistence, and pursuit of holiness as He did.  It is not always easy and does not always make sense, but it is always becoming of believers. Stand strong. Trust God. Keep on going and growing.  

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Resistance.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (I Peter 5)
These people had problems.  They were suffering persecution.  The "roaring lion" using the lions of the arena to scare them.  Yet, they were to stand firm in their faith.  The way to stand up against such opposition is not lift our head in pride, but humble our hearts in obedience, dependence, and faith.  Resistance is not bitter rebellion; it is steadfast confidence.  When we "stand" in such a way, we will be able to see God at work, doing what we could never do.  

Monday, October 8, 2018

True Love Unspoken

19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. (James 5)
Peter, in his first letter says  Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.(4:8)  Here, James describes a very practical and real way to show that love - drawing an erring brother or sister in the Lord back in repentance from error.  It's like running back into a burning building to save someone - it takes courage, faith, and love.  Both writers are telling us the same thing.  In this journey of faith with all its distractions and discouragements, it can be tempting to give up, lose heart, and fall.  But when we walk together, encouraging and challenging each other, the journey becomes much more doable.   Come along side a brother or sister today.  Someday you may be the one tending to wander away.