Saturday, September 15, 2012

Rejoice in your crosses

"But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly."  (1 Peter 4: 13)

Lord help me to understand the mystery of the cross.
Help me to embrace the crosses you permit in my life.
Teach me how to rejoice in them.
Help me to share the knowledge of the cross with courage and power.

Rejection of the cross is rejection of Jesus Christ.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The people's patience was worn out by the journey

"From Mount Hor they set out by way of the Red Sea, to bypass the land of Edom, but the people’s patience was worn out by the journey;
so the people complained against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in the wilderness, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!" (Numbers 21: 4 - 5)

Scripture narratives are written to instruct us through the experiences of other people.  We learn what to imitate and what to avoid.  In Numbers 21: 4 - 5, we are reminded that the Christian life is a journey.  As the Israelites journeyed from Egypt to the Promised Land, so are we on a journey to the Promised Land of Heaven.  The journey could be long, tortuous and often on dangerous terrain.  There  is never an excuse for criticism, complaint or condemnation.  On the contrary, the word of God says:

"Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to god.  Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."  (Philippians 4: 6 - 7)

We shall never forget that:

"These things happened to them as an example, and they have been written down as a warning to us, upon whom the end of the ages has come." (1 Corinthians 10: 11)

"For whatever was written previously was written for our instruction, that by endurance and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope." (Romans 15: 4)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up

"We realize that “all of us have knowledge”; knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up."  (1 Corinthians 1: 8)

I find the Amplified Bible's rendition of the above passage interesting:

"Of course we know that all of us possess knowledge [concerning these matters.  Yet mere] knowledge causes people to be puffed up (to bear themselves loftily and be proud), but love (affection and goodwill and benevolence) edifies and builds up and encourages one to grow [to his full stature].

Lord, grant me simplicity and humility in sharing what I know of you and your Church.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"“Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours." (Luke 6 : 20)

“Blessed are you who are poor,
for the kingdom of God is yours." (Luke 6 : 20)

The Bible is full of many pronouncements of blessedness.  For example: Blessed are those who trust in the Lord; Blessed are those who are invited to the supper of the Lamb.  Among those pronounced blessed in the Sermon on the Mount are those who are materially poor and depend solely on God for everything.  They are happy here and now and will be so forever because they possess God.

I see two choices here:  To be rich in the world or to be rich in faith.  I have tasted the former.   Lord, make me rich in faith.  I want to taste your kingdom here and now.  I want to possess it forever.

Blessed John Henry Newman has an interesting thing to say about wealth:

"All bow down before wealth. Wealth is that to which the multitude of men pay an instinctive homage. They measure happiness by wealth; and by wealth they measure respectability. . . . It is a homage resulting from a profound faith . . . that with wealth he may do all things. Wealth is one idol of the day and notoriety is a second. . . . Notoriety, or the making of a noise in the world - it may be called "newspaper fame" - has come to be considered a great good in itself, and a ground of veneration."

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Why not let yourself be cheated?

"Now indeed [then] it is, in any case, a failure on your part that you have lawsuits against one another. Why not rather put up with injustice? Why not rather let yourselves be cheated?"  (1 Corinthians 6: 7)

Dear Jesus, this is a tough teaching.  I feel injustice keenly.  I am very resentful when I am cheated.  When I work for somebody and I am not paid, I feel angry.  But your word above is clear.  You ask me to be willing to suffer persecution for the sake of righteousness.  Well, you practiced what you teach, didn't you.  When you were insulted, spit upon and cursed, you did not answer back.

You ask us to learn from you because you are meek and humble of heart and that your yoke is easy.  I am willing to try.  Help me Lord.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD and exult in my saving God." (Habakkuk 3: 17 - 18)

"For though the fig tree does not blossom,
and no fruit appears on the vine,
Though the yield of the olive fails
and the terraces produce no nourishment,
Though the flocks disappear from the fold
and there is no herd in the stalls,
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD
and exult in my saving God."  (Habakkuk 3: 17 - 18)

What are the creature comforts that you cannot absolutely do without?  Are they health, family, money, job, property, food?  What will you do it you are deprived of these idols?  Are you going to curse God and die?

The Prophet Habakkuk answers that even if he is deprived of all creature comforts, "Yet I will rejoice in the Lord and exult in my saving God."

"Find your delight in the LORD who will give you your heart's desire. "  Psalm 37:4)

Sunday, September 09, 2012

God chooses those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith

"Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him?"  (James 2: 5)

We see here a clear and stark choice before us:
Poor in the world versus rich in faith.
I choose rich in faith.  To those that love God, He has another great promise:

"We know that all things work for good for those who love God,* who are called according to his purpose.
For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified."  Romans 8: 28 - 30)

Lord, grant me rich faith and help me to love you with all my heart.  Grant that all things will work for good for me.  Amen!